The Hartley Sentinel-The Everly/Royal News - Serving O'Brien & Clay Counties

By Mike Petersen
Sports Editor & Staff Writer 

Royal council mulls future of old water plant

ILRW to provide cost estimates to relocate meter, lines


January 26, 2023


Royal council members this month discussed long-range options for the city's water system.

The status of the old water plant in Royal is being further investigated following discussions with the city's water supplier.

Mayor Josh Toft reported at this month's council meeting that Iowa Lakes Regional Water (ILRW) has agreed to provide cost estimates for exposing lines under the former plant. Doing so will help determine what should be relocated or eliminated, and what must remain.

The old plant is located adjacent to the city maintenance building and fire station. According to discussion, a main water line and ILRW's meter are in the building, so the city needs to heat it. Doing so cost the city over $300 last month.

"[ILRW] wants to open up the ground and see what's down there. What's there might not be able to be replaced," Toft acknowledged.

"It's not going to be a cheap deal. Nobody knows for sure what's under there," said Sherman Nielsen, Royal's street, water and maintenance superintendent.

It was noted that the service line to the fire station is also located under the plant. ILRW suggests installing a larger line in another location.

Nielsen noted that the furnace in the old plant should be replaced if heat continues to be needed. The building also leaks despite efforts to seal the openings.

A cost estimate from ILRW may be ready for consideration at the February meeting.

Council members also discussed long-range options for the city's water system. One that was mentioned is the possibility of ILRW taking over the entire infrastructure. Concerns about the condition of water mains, the need to install additional valves and maintenance of the water tower, which is scheduled to be painted this year, were expressed.

"I suggest we keep going forward and if we hand it over, we hand it over," said Council Member Jeff Van Westen. "There will always be a part of me that feels we would be losing something. But if it's for the best of the town, then we should do it."

Nielsen is installing new water meters in residences as time allows. The council wants that process to continue and then equip the meters to be read remotely.

"They said what Sherman is doing is good and he should proceed," Toft noted.

Street repairs were also briefly discussed. A meeting was scheduled with County Supervisor Allen Batschelet to survey the condition of 1st Avenue (M36) on the east side of town. Toft said the city will ask if Clay County would also assist with the cost of repaving Main Street. The council hopes to have major street improvements completed before Royal's 125th celebration in 2025.


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