|Feb 16, 2011 --
The city of Elmore, Minn. soon will have modern water, wastewater, and storm water treatment infrastructure. To top it off, the city also is looking forward to finishing its new library.
The city is using funds made available in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and administered through USDA Rural Development to finance both projects. Once finished, the city will have an efficient and reliable treatment system that meets environmental regulations. It also will have a modern library to improve educational opportunities and access to technology in the community.
“Spending $100,000 for a band aid wasn’t going to be an option,” Elmore mayor Keven Sullivan said. “We decided to put all the projects together. It helped us a lot.”
Much Needed Improvements
Even if Sullivan wanted to use the band-aid approach, he would’ve had to buy them in bulk. Problems with Elmore’s water, wastewater and storm water treatment systems included:
• Failing stabilization ponds
• Discharge violations
• Pond seepage
• Cracked and collapsed pipes
• Sewer backups from poor storm water drainage
• Wasting over 4,000 gallons of water per day
• Failing water storage tank
• Pollution control violations
The $8 million project ($6 million from Rural Development Recovery Act funds) will fix all of these issues. The city’s water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure was over 50 years old and long overdue for improvements. Another stabilization pond also was added.
“All aspects of this project tied into each other,” Sullivan said. “It was like a domino.
Thanks to the Recovery Act, Rural Development was able to finance the project and keep user rates reasonable for Elmore residents. The city also is working on securing additional state funding.
Library a Grass-Roots Effort
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has made funding rural libraries a top priority. Rural Development funded six library projects in Minnesota in 2010. Five were funded using Recovery Act funds, including $250,000 for a new library in Elmore.
“Over time, we hoped we could find a way to get a library project finished,” Sullivan said. “It’s always had great community support, really a lot of grassroots support.”
A private donation allowed the city to purchase the building. Private donations also funded roof and wall repairs. All funds were raised through the Friends of the Elmore Library Group.
Several other community-based organizations have made donations or helped with fundraising events. Volunteers are helping with some of the restoration work. Recovery Act funds will go toward additional renovations to the building.
“This is a great community effort,” said Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development Minnesota State Director. “It’s these types of collaborative and community-based efforts that make important projects like this happen.”