The people of Schuyler (pop. 6,211) understand all too well the risks of being located along the Platte River. Everyone in the community is very aware of the flood plain in Schuyler and the damage flood water can cause to private and public properties. The realities of such damage were realized in 2008 during a summer season of excessive flooding. As a result of the flooding, piping began to fail in the existing sewer lift station. Emergency pumping and repairs were required to prevent sewage backup in approximately 1,000 homes. It became apparent that a new sewer lift station needed to be constructed in a new location in order to avoid a repeat disaster. Plans for the project were soon developed by working with JEO Consulting Group, but funding sources for the project had not been identified.
In September 2009, Governor Heineman awarded Schuyler a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $866,000 through the Department of Economic Development’s (DED) disaster grant program. Application assistance was provided by the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District (NENEDD). Additional funding came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and utility revenue received from sewer rate payers.
Since this project was so vital to the well-being of Schuyler, it really was a community effort. The Board of Public Works and the City Council were driving forces behind the project. Everyone in the community understood the necessity to get this lift station complete. They can now live without worry of wastewater backing up in their homes.
The new sewer lift station will serve the residents and commercial users of Schuyler for many years to come. The CDBG funding reduced the need to rely on local funds and user fees. And sewer rates will not increase to cover the cost of construction.
The new lift station is not the last Schuyler will see of CDBG funding. Applications are in the works for future projects including a downtown revitalization project, an update of the community’s comprehensive plan in 2014, construction of a levee and other public works projects.
Mayor David Reinecke, also a local business owner stated, “The North Lift Station project funded through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development CDBG disaster grant program was a godsend to this community after suffering the effects of flooding in 2008 and 2010. The more than one million dollar project is a huge benefit to Schuyler and its residents.”