More signs water woes being solved

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

What happens when the well runs dry? Ask anyone who has gone through it, and they will tell you it's a helpless, desperate feeling. There aren't too many options. About all you can do -- in the short term -- is get a big tank and haul water to your home.

For evidence, you need look no farther than the Nothnagel Addition south of McCook and the area east of the Cross Creek Golf Links in Cambridge. Because of the prolonged drought, both ran out of water.

But, thankfully, the problems are on the way to being solved. The solution is coming in the form of a federal grant known by the initials "ECWAG."

That may sound like alphabet soup, but the letters are meaningful for the 13 homeowners in the Nothnagel Addition and the 11 homeowners east of Cambridge. Because of ECWAG -- which stands for Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant -- McCook will be receiving a $150,000 grant, as did Cambridge earlier from the same program.

Cambridge has already been through the entire process. The grant money has been approved, the city water lines have been extended, the area to the east has been annexed and the homeowners are receiving water. Now that the water is flowing, residents are happy with the results. Says Del Schoenfish, who lives east of Cambridge. "We're well pleased. The pressure is even better than we expected."

Residents south of McCook are hoping for the same kind of outcome. Like Cambridge, McCook is to receive a $150,000 grant. The funds will be used to extend 6 to 8-inch water lines from McCook's new water treatment plant to the area south of town. The addition is located west of U.S. Highway 83 and and north of "M" Hill.

The residents will have to come up with part of the cost themselves , estimated at $1,850 each, and they will have to pay one and a half times the water rate of city residents. Still, it will be a bargain in comparison to the cost of transporting water one tank at a time.

At long last, Southwest Nebraska is on the way to solving its water problems. A key factor has been the the water assistance grants applied for by Miller & Associates and administered by the Rural Development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition to the $150,000 emergency grants for McCook and Cambridge, there have been water awards of $1.2 million to the Bartley-Cambridge-Indianola project, $487,000 to Arapahoe-Holbrook, $487,000 to Oberlin and $404,000 to Stratton.

That totals more than $2.8 million, and it represents only a portion of the great price required to provide the precious resource of water to the communities of the Golden Plains.

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