By Michael Schaffer Managing Editor
The Daily Iowegian
---- — The Rathbun Regional Water Association dedication Friday of its new water treatment facility and associated improvements in northern Appanoose County was attended by more than 110 ranging from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to Centerville Mayor Jan Spurgeon.
Because of one improvement, RRWA can now draw water directly from Rathbun Lake. Before, the only water intake was from the Chariton River below the Rathbun Lake dam near the spillway.
RRWA CEO John Glenn said drawing water directly from the lake means a big improvement in water quality over what they had before.
“That gives us better quality of water, generally, and a more consistent quality,” Glenn said, adding water drawn below the dam at times during flooding would be muddy and would force RRWA to change treatment plans while changes in lake water quality are very gradual.
The nearly $40 million water treatment facility and distribution system improvement includes an approximately 60-foot deep and 20-foot diameter Caisson-style intake that withdraws raw water from Rathbun Lake. The water intake pipe is 36 inches in diameter and extends more than 500 feet into the lake and four submersible pumps are located inside the Caisson portion of the intake.
The Rathbun Lake intake has the capacity to supply 17.5 million gallons of raw water daily to RRWA’s two water treatment plants.
The Caisson pump building is located at an elevation to protect it from high lake levels.
Raw water from the lake travels to the water treatment plants through two, 24 inch diameter mains.
The new water treatment facility has at least a 6 million gallon per day production capacity and the plant’s design allows for a daily production capacity of up to 9 million gallons.
A new water tower No. 5 located west of Moravia has a 1 million gallon water storage capacity. It takes seven miles of 20 inch diameter mains to get clean drinking water from the new treatment plant to the new tower.
Glenn said economic development groups and the cities and towns that they serve now know they will have access to a larger, reliable water supply well into the future.
“And I think that’s really important,” Glenn said.
Glenn said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have made economic development one of their top priorities.
Reynolds, who followed Glenn at the dedication ceremony, said the additional water supply is important to the area and will help spur economic development efforts.
“And the efforts that you have put into place with this facility really poises this area to encourage and create new economic development to this area,” Reynolds said. “This is great for this area of the state and for the areas and the communities that you serve.”
Reynolds introduced Gov. Branstad, who called the dedication a special occasion.
“As you can see, good things are happening here in the state of Iowa,” Gov. Branstad said. “It’s great to be here and to celebrate the success of Rathbun Regional Water Association. This new expansion is very impressive and will be helpful to helping grow careers in the economy here in southeast Iowa with the additional access to a safe and reliable water supply for homes and businesses.”
Gov. Branstad said Rathbun Regional Water Association expansion is an opportunity for economic growth.
“So, we are very proud of what you’re doing,” Gov. Branstad said. “And we’re very excited about the capacity you now have to help grow this part of the state.”
Gov. Branstad congratulated RRWA for its long service to the state. RRWA was started in the 1960s by a bunch of farmers, he said.
“So you all can be very proud of the history and the progress that you’ve made and we’re proud to be with you to celebrate this new expansion. Congratulations, keep up the good work.”
Funding for RRWA’s improvements that started in late 2006 came in part from United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the State Revolving Fund and RRWA reserve funds.
RRWA is the largest rural water system in Iowa providing drinking water to 80,000 people in 50 communities in 18 southeast Iowa and northeast Missouri counties.