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Wellington cautious about plan for city water plant

Sun Advocate associate editor

Wellington City is in no hurry to accept a $3.5 million federal funding package to build its own water treatment facility and storage tanks.

That's because $2.575 million of that is an Agriculture Department loan and, as councilman Kirt Tatton said, "It is something we have always wanted but we want to be careful about debt."

The council indicated last Wednesday that they want to be convinced of all the numbers and scenarios before committing culinary water customers to 40 years of payback.

For example, what will happen in winter time when the surface water flow freezes and the water plant loses supply? The city would have to rely on the Price River Water Improvement District for months, and at what cost? Wellington is already a wholesale customer of PRWID.

The council did adopt a resolution that will get the ball rolling on a maximum of $3.5 million in revenue bonds.

That will require more study and a public hearing before anything becomes a solid commitment, though.

The federal funds, which include a grant of $925,000, are contingent on the city meeting USDA terms.

The USDA funding for Wellington is part of a 40-state, $203 million program to finance improvements in water and wastewater systems for about 200,000 rural residents.

"Water and wastewater projects like these help safeguard rural access to a modern, working infrastructure, which in turn ensures a decent quality of life and helps attract - and keep - the best and brightest in small towns across America," said Secretrary Tom Vilsack in a prepared statement.

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