Cherokee Nation working on 5 water access projects

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
05/23/2018 08:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee Nation’s Environmental Health & Engineering program is working on the Southern Delaware County Regional Water Treatment Plant in the Flint Ridge community near the Illinois River. It is one of five projects the program is working on in Delaware and Muskogee counties. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Environmental Health & Engineering program is working on five projects to provide better water access to CN citizens living in Delaware and Muskogee counties.

Environmental Health & Engineering Director Billy Hix said in Delaware County the program is working on a waterline extension for Rural Water Dist. 11, constructing a water treatment plan in the southern part of the county and working on a water loss project near Kenwood.

RWD 11 waterline extension

Hix said the project consists of constructing approximately 19 miles of 6-inch, 4-inch and 2-inch waterlines near Leach, Rocky Ford, Teresita and Kansas.

He said the waterlines would be in communities that haven’t been previously served and would connect to approximately 125 homes, 75 of which are Cherokee households.

“Homes in the area have a myriad of issues with water quality and quantity,” Hix said. “Many of the wells are positive for coliform and fecal coliform bacteria, and some wells are low-yielding and unable to provide sufficient water to support a home.”

KSL Dirtworks, a Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified contractor, started the project in January. Construction is expected to be finished in October, Hix said. He added that the estimated cost is $1.8 million with $662,000 coming from the Indian Health Service, $458,000 from the CN, $207,000 from a Community Development Block Grant, $250,000 from local funds and $303,000 from a loan.

Southern Delaware County Regional WTP

Hix said this project is in the Flint Ridge community and consists of a new 2 million gallon per day water treatment plant, two water storage tanks, three pump stations and 3.6 miles of 12-inch waterline.

He said the plant and other infrastructure would provide water to Flint Ridge, West Siloam Springs, Colcord, Kansas and the county’s RWD 11, serving approximately 2,500 homes with about 1,100 being Cherokee households.

“All of the communities served by this project had various issues with water quality or quantity. We worked with them to prepare a feasibility study to see if a regional water treatment plant to serve them would work,” Hix said. “The feasibility study was very favorable to the idea, and so the communities formed a public trust authority under Delaware County. When completed the authority will provide water to the communities. Each of the communities has a position on the authority’s board of directors and as such has a seat at the table in making decisions for the water supply.”

He said Huffman Construction is building the water treatment plant, while Circle P Welding is constructing the storage tanks and Cross-Bo Construction, a TERO contractor, is handling the water line and pump stations.

Construction on the $15.7 million project began in May 2017, and its completion is expected in December, Hix said.

He said its funds stem from a $6.7 million Rural Development Loan, a $1.9 million Rural Development Grant, a $2 million Rural Development Native American Grant, $3 million from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, $1.5 million from IHS, a $476,000 IHS/CN Planning Grant and $90,000 in local funds.

Kenwood Water Loss Project

Hix said the project covers the Kenwood Water District distribution system in southwest Delaware County and east of the Mayes County line and consists of installing new valves, meters and hydrants to identify, isolate and repair leaking waterlines.

He said the project would impact 174 homes, all of which are Cherokee.

“The Kenwood Water District had problems with high amounts of water loss. Most months it was over 50 percent,” Hix said. “The project will help reduce the water loss to acceptable levels. This will save the district significant amounts in utility costs for pumping, as well as reducing the cost of chemicals used to disinfect the water. The district has already fixed several large leaks found by this project.”

He said the Kenwood Water District staff is handling the $302,000 project with the CN lending technical assistance and engineering support. He added that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is giving $202,000 for the project, while IHS is supplying $100,000.

The project began in November, and its expected completion is in October, Hix said.

He said in Muskogee County the Environmental Health & Engineering program is rehabilitating a water treatment plant in Fort Gibson and extending a waterline east of Fort Gibson.

Fort Gibson WTP Rehabilitation

Hix said the rehab is on the west side of Fort Gibson adjacent to the Grand River and consists of rehabilitating and improving the water treatment plant that provides water to Fort Gibson and surrounding rural water districts.

He said the contractor, HCCCo LLC, is installing water treatment process equipment, raw water intake structures, controls, buildings, piping and storage and that it would impact about 1,500 homes, with approximately 500 households being Cherokee.

“The existing water treatment plant was under a consent order from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality for violations of the safe drinking water act,” Hix said. “Specifically the existing plant was unable to meet the new standards for disinfection byproducts. The updated treatment plant will bring the system back into compliance.”

Approximately $7.1 million from Rural Development and $857,000 from IHS is funding the project. Hix said the project should be done in June after nearly two years of work.

Muskogee County RWD 7 waterline extension

Hix said about 2 miles east of Fort Gibson and 1.5 north of Two Mile Road homes had issues with water quality and quantity that existing wells produced, so approximately 4,300 linear feet of waterline and a booster pump station are being added.

He said about 20 homes will be impacted, with about 11 of them being Cherokee.

The project is receiving $93,500 from IHS and $13,500 from CN and is expected to be done in July after about four months of construction.
About the Author
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, ...
TRAVIS-SNELL@cherokee.org • 918-453-5358
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, ...

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