July 21, 2024

Reservoir plan moves to preliminary review stage

At the Jan. 18 meeting of the Clarke County Reservoir Commission (CCRC), the commission received news that all chapters of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is the plan for the reservoir project, are “relatively complete,” and that there is no longer a need for a signed programmatic agreement before the plan’s draft can be sent for agency review. A programmatic agreement is a required component under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which simply put is a document that states a certain amount of archealogical work will be done on a certian amount of acres by a certain date before construction begins.

Mike Butterfield, project manager with engineering firm HDR, Inc., said that the chapters in the EIS with small gaps are being filled in as they are completed. Butterfield also said that HDR has been working on the quality assurance and quality control portion of the EIS for the past two months, and that is now under review by NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) and Dave Beck, CCRC project coordinator.

One section that is still being worked on is the economic analysis section, which looks at the costs and benefits of a project over time. Butterfield said there is an understanding with the NRCS that once those evaluations are complete and data is collected and analyzed, they will be included in the Environmental Consequence and Cumulative Impacts chapter.

At the time of the January meeting, Butterfield expected that data to be complete in the next 30 days. The draft under review is expected to be ready for comments at a Feb. 15 coordination meeting with NRCS.

Butterfield said HDR is collaborating with NRCS on the programmatic agreement part of the cultural resources component, with a bit of good news received. Previously, it had been thought that a signed programmatic agreement was necessary before the draft EIS could be sent to the National Water Management Center (NWMC) for review. However, this is no longer the case. Now, the plan’s draft can be sent, with the acknowledgment that a signed programmatic agreement will be forthcoming.

“That’s a good thing…they don’t need the signed agreement, they have good progress on it and we’re certainly thinking–NRCS is certainly thinking–we’ll have a good draft going here this winter and into spring,” said Butterfield.

An estimated schedule to have a signed programmatic agreement is July at the earliest, or any time between July and November.

A notice of intent is currently waiting to be filed in the Federal Register, which is an NRCS task, before the planning EIS can go to the NWMC for a 30-day review period. Once it is ready to go, NRCS and Beck will incorporate comments into and polish the document, then the document will be sent to NWMC, which Butterfield said could be 60 to 90 days for review. Following that review, the document will be sent out to consulting parties - such as for the Army Corp of Engineers, SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office), tribes, etc. - for another 30-day review period before CCRC can receive and respond to comments.

As of the Jan. 18 meeting, the area of potential effect - a geographic area within the project that may cause direct or indirect effects to character or use of historic properties - was being reviewed by SHPO.

Other CCRC news

Beck said that the NRCS had issued a letter on Dec. 7, 2023 stating that they had determined that the commission had not action in direct violation of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as questioned by SHPO. During a 10-year period when the reservoir project was not receiving federal funding due to government defunding, the commission had moved forward with removing some properties and doing fieldwork, which SHPO said was in violation of Section 106.

Project recap

Osceola’s current water source is that of West Lake. West Lake has a current safe withdrawal capacity of 0.8 million gallons per day (MGD), with a future safe withdrawal capacity predicated at 0.7 MGD. Patterson, superintendent for Osceola Water Works, had previously stated that an average of 1.3 MGD goes through the Osceola treatment plant. The preliminary design for the new reservoir, Site 4B, will have a safe withdrawal capacity of 2.0 MGD, and will be used to help assist West Lake. The projected daily withdrawal demand in 20 years is 2.8 MGD.

In January, SIRWA’s (Southern Iowa Rural Water Association) new water treatment plant went live, allowing them to stop pulling water from West Lake and provide water to some Clarke County users with Union County water.

The next CCRC meeting is set for Feb. 22 at 9:30 a.m. in the Clarke County Development board room, 115 E. Washington St.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.