May 26, 2014

Water system expansion: City officials to seek funding alternatives

May 26, 2014 By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

Fort Gibson city officials are seeking other ways to fund water system expansion after its request for federal funding was denied.

The city has been exploring the possibility of building a new water treatment plant on the site of its current facility, said Mayor Brad Clinkenbeard.

Plans call for extension of the water plant from 2.8 million gallons per day to 4 million gallons per day, a new process building, new chemical feed building and lab, plus improvements to current facilities.

Clinkenbeard said the city had asked the U.S Department of Agriculture to help fund plant improvements.

He said the city had asked the USDA to fund a percentage of the project, but did not specify how much the project would be.

“We didn’t know at the time if we would meet eligibility requirements,” Clinkenbeard said.

He said the city heard earlier this month that it was not eligible for the funding.

“We were too wealthy,” he said. “We were just a few dollars over the limit.”

Clinkenbeard said the city will consider looking to other sources of funding, including the Cherokee Nation or the Eastern Oklahoma Development District.

He said he has no plans of changing project plans.

In the meantime, the city continues routine maintenance, including clearing sludge from storage ponds.

Clinkenbeard had estimated a new plant could cost about $8 million, while simply rehabilitating the plant could cost about $2 million.

He said the city needs water system expansion to meet demands of a growing community.

Clinkenbeard has projected Fort Gibson could grow by 15 percent over the next 10 years, meaning a potential population of 5,175.

The city also serves four rural water districts as well as Whitlock Packaging, he said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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