The Village of Spencer hoped to “expand in small ways,” said Vicki Pecena, village clerk. Spencer (pop. 541), was striving for development, but seemed to run into roadblocks on its pathway to growth. The deteriorating water system along with escalating repair costs created some of these blocks.
Spencer’s current water system has significantly deteriorated since its construction in 1920. The cast iron water mains have undergone considerable wear and tear due to water main breaks and subsequent water loss. The water system was incurring a “30% to 40% loss of water,” said Pecena. This substantial loss affected water pressure and weakened the system’s ability to serve citizen’s needs.
“The biggest fear was the potential for fire and the system not being able to adequately control the fire,” said Pecena. Hydrants that contained water pressure of 20 pounds per square inch (psi) or less served various areas of the village. Hydrants also were improperly spaced and lacked isolation valves and proper connections to water mains. This lack of hydrant water pressure and water supply posed safety hazards for all residents.
The existing 50,000-gallon elevated storage tank lacks the capacity to meet daily water needs. The deficiencies of the tank and water mains include inoperable valves, inadequately sized mains, and dead end mains. Stemming from these deficiencies, the village was plagued with reduced water system reliability and pressure, and increased health hazards and residents’ complaints.
To resolve these difficulties and continue on the path to growth, the Village Board focused on solving the water system issue. The board realized they would need to conduct a study to uncover the specific problems of the water system. To fund the study, the Village of Spencer applied for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Governor Mike Johanns awarded Spencer $11,700 in CDBG funds in the planning category. Spencer matched the CDBG award with $3,800 in local funds.
“The availability of this grant for the study was invaluable to Spencer. It allowed us to determine the condition of our system and decide what we needed to do,” said Pecena.
A study conducted by Gilmore & Associates, Inc., recommended the construction of new water mains and a larger elevated water storage tank. To fulfill these recommendations, Spencer applied for further CDBG funding. Governor Mike Johanns awarded Spencer $250,000 in CDBG funds in the public works category to improve its water system. Spencer also applied for and received a $979,800 loan and a $55,200 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. The CDBG and USDA funding will finance construction of a new 100,000-gallon elevated storage tank and the replacement of several feet of distribution mains.
Construction is set to begin in spring 2004 and is expected to take a year to a year and a half to complete. The improved water system will reduce the roadblocks to growth and “ease the minds of residents about fire control,” said Pecena.
Spencer Water System
Northeast Nebraska Development District (Partner)
111 South 1st Street
Norfolk, NE 68701
Rick Zubrod (DED Representative)
(402) 471-3762 • (800) 426-6505