FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR
Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:
Let’s talk about water! Why were we on water restrictions so long, we had a lot of snow this winter & we have had a fair amount of rain this spring? Okay start with the snow: snow does almost nothing for feeding our aquifer; the old adage that it takes 12 inches of snow to equal 1 inch of rain is probably pretty close. Plus if you add in the frost line & how cold it was almost none of the snow gets into our storage area. Thus whatever was happening in the winter months did almost nothing. Yes, we have had good rain this spring but with two years of drought & how low the water table dropped we still have not completely recovered. My water department tells me that depth in the water vortex of our pumping system is normal in three wells but it is still slightly short of where we should be at this time of year in other two wells. When we get water reports that we are using in the neighborhood of 412,000 gallons of water per day it shows we are not conserving. Thus water restrictions went back on until we saw the most recent improvements. The key will be what happens in July, August, & September. If they are dry like the last two years in will be back to the restrictions. [The opening paragraph was basically written three weeks ago.] We are presently going to try a two to three week test period to see what our wells look like at the end of the test period. With the most recent rains it looks good but like I said July & August will tell us a lot.
What has the council done about our water supply? Actually other than turning on well #6 we have not really done anything physical, but we have explored options. We found out Poweshiek Water is not an answer unless you want to spend 3.1 million dollars just to get water to our east door. Spending that kind of money & not building a water purification plant would not be cost effective.
We could turn on well #6 all the time & let our residents fend for themselves in terms of water softeners &/or whole house filter systems. Many in the community think this is a viable idea and saves us the cost of a water purification plant.
Build a water purification plant at a cost of 2 to 3 million dollars & then raise water rates to pay for it. Based on what we know about well #6 we have plenty of water but you know the problems with the quality. In the process we look for grants to help defray the cost but even if you got it down to 1.5 million you will still see a considerable difference in your water bill. Possibly look for a partner in building the plant, which could be an option. (Just read a 2009 water plan prepared for Wellman & the cost for a purification plant was around $3.1 million)
Drill some more moderate level wells? Could be done but the one engineer I talked to said that is a $250,000 project at the least. I have also read reports from the 90’s that indicated those mid-level water aquifers bring a water quality with a whole bunch of other problems. Again we will need new engineering reports to answer those questions.
BOTTOM LINE: The cost!!!!!
The one thing that seems to have steered previous councils away from a water purification plant has been what it will cost the tax payers. No matter what you think, there is not federal or state “pot of gold” out there that we can just tap into to make the cost go away.
This will have to be footed by the taxpayers of Belle Plaine.
Maybe the answer is what has been done in the past: Rely on nature & hope that we get out of this dry cycle & our current shallow wells re-fill. Understanding that when it doesn’t we will have to use well #6 and suggest as many people who can afford it put in at least some type of whole house filter system. I have heard various costs on those items. I do hear from those who are on fixed incomes & the problems that will cost. Remember your Mayor lives on a fixed income……
I have been asked by several council members to discuss a few more items before I close this letter.
Golf Carts, burning regulations & pool fencing:
City Code States:
SECTION 3-40-25 GOLF CARTS. Persons possessing a valid driver’s license may operate a golf cart upon the city streets in the manner allowed under Section 321.247 of the Iowa Code and subject to the following terms and conditions. (You must have a valid driver’s license & follow all rules & regulations that apply to other motor vehicles)
(1) A golf cart shall not be operated upon a city street which is a primary road extension through the city but shall be allowed to cross a city street which is a primary road extension through the city. (This means no carts on 7th avenue or 13th street)
(2) The golf carts shall be equipped with a slow moving vehicle sign and a bicycle safety flag.
(3) The golf cart shall operate on the streets only from sunrise to sunset.
(4) Golf carts operated on city streets shall be equipped with adequate brakes. (I was also told by the legal staff that the definition for golf cart it has to be a vehicle that is allowed on a golf course for that purpose thus it must have a place for golf clubs)
Burning Hours for the city in the months of June, July, & August are from noon to 4:00 pm on Saturday only. Garbage can never be burned just wood & yard waste. Outdoor recreational fires are permitted.
All fires are to be diligently attended until they are extinguished.
Pool Fences: Again from the city code: (2) Fenced enclosures shall be provided for outdoor swimming pools with a depth of eighteen (18) inches or more, and shall be subject to the following requirements.
(a) Fences must be at least six (6) feet in height from ground level but not to exceed seven (7) feet from the top rim of the pool, and have no spaces that would allow a two (2) inch diameter sphere to pass through non-climbable, be chain link or vertical flat fencing. Chicken wire, deer or snow fence in not acceptable.
(b) Fences must have a self-closing and self-latching device on the gate.
To those who wonder the city pool is regulated by federal & state code which over rules any parts of our city ordinance!
Congratulations to Coach Tegeler, Coach Bohlen, Coach Franklin & the boys track team on a very successful 8th place finish in the state track meet along with the SICL & District meet crowns. Also Congratulations to Coach Mantz, Coach Mitchell & the girls track team on a very successful state meet & their Keota Relays Championship. (I know someone who has 15 Keota Relays titles) Also congratulations to Larissa Fowler, Shannon Murray, Brialy Carlson, & Justice Yilek on bringing home the shuttle hurdle relay state championship with a record setting performance.
Get out & catch some local softball or baseball action before it is too late. Enjoy our “OLD FASHION 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION” & also test out the disk golf course, one of our parks, the games & food at Franklin Park or the aquatic center. Plus the parade, the fireworks, street dance & more.
As always “Go Plainsmen”. Remember it is up to all of us to make
Belle Plaine the best hometown in Iowa!
Mayor Dave Fish – July 2014