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R&T pushing to finish rural buildout

 

Posted 10/04/16 (Tue)

R&T pushing to finish rural buildout

By Kevin Killough
Rural customers between Ray and Tioga are still on track to get water service from the R&T Water Supply Association before the end of the year.
Though, it’s not completely certain at this point. 
“If the weather turns on them, it could be a problem,” said Kent Bickler, project manager with R&T. 
This year
The buildout will connect hundreds of rural residents to the Western Area Water Supply Authority. 
The project is divided into several sections, some of which won’t begin construction until further funding is in place.
The R&T North Tioga Rural Distribution will come online in another four to five weeks, and that will bring water to residents between Ray and Tioga. 
The area is not a perfect square and extends east and west a couple miles past Ray and Tioga. The southern border of the area is roughly U.S. 2, and the northern border is approximately several miles north of that, past the towns. 
When complete, it will serve about 118 rural residents. 
The rural network will be powered by two “booster” stations, both of which are currently being constructed. 
One is located near the R&T water tank along U.S. 2, on top of an old underground tank, and the second is located at the old standpipe north of Tioga. 
The City of Tioga recently negotiated the sale of the standpipe to WAWSA for $150,000. 
Dustin Schultz with AE2S, the engineer on the project, said the pipe is in the ground and at this point they’ve moved into the testing phase for the project, making sure the water meets regulatory standards. 
The future
This year’s construction also includes a buildout around Stanley, and one at Epping, though Epping is outside R&T’s water service area.
Additionally, R&T worked on rural buildouts south of U.S. 2 between Tioga and Ray, called the West White Earth Rural Distribution. 
Schultz said this project will probably not be completed this year. He said they started some directional boring, but the project was slowed down due to extensive oil and gas pipelines in the area. 
They’ve been working to identify the location of those pipelines, but the process is taking time.
“We’re trying to do our due diligence and carry out the project safely,” Schultz explained. 
When complete it will serve about two dozen residents. 
Alternate areas
The West White Earth section is tied into an alternate section that is awaiting funding. This location is an area east of Tioga, starting north of the city and then south, all the way to the river. It will serve, when complete, about 30 to 50 residents. 
The authority has hit some budgetary issues as industrial water sales, which the regional project depended on to cover loans, slowed far below projections. 
This makes the start dates of future projects less certain.