116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SOLON - Solon agreed in 2017 to provide city water to the 14 houses in Gallery Acres West miles away because of the development's arsenic-plagued drinking water well.
Four years later, the 8-inch diameter pipeline that was supposed to connect the development to Solon's water still isn't complete and may have to be re-laid because portions are not deep enough to avoid freezing in the winter.
'Since the contractor made the error, they have to go back and fix that,” said Tracy Hufford, a resident of Gallery Acres West.
The neighborhood, which backs up to the Lake Macbride Golf Course off Highway 382, got a loan from the State Revolving Fund for $1.3 million and has used about $932,500 so far on the project, said Mark Moeller, supervisor of the Water Supply Engineering Section of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The state will forgive up to 75 percent of eligible expenses, but forgiveness won't be applied until the project is done, he said.
'The DNR and the SRF program are aware of the project's progress and challenges and will continue to work with the applicant toward completion,” Moeller said.
There is no deadline for the project, but Gallery Acres West is required to give the Iowa DNR quarterly updates.
Arsenic occurs naturally in groundwater, lakes and rivers. But ingesting too much arsenic can result in increased risk of skin, bladder, lung, kidney and prostate cancer, as well as diabetes, cardiovascular, immunological and neurological disorders, according to the State Hygienic Laboratory.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's standard for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion.
As part of a 2016 survey, the lab did 490 arsenic tests on wells throughout Iowa. Of those tests, 22, or 4.5 percent, measured arsenic levels above safe levels. The range of those tests was 10 parts per billion to 62 parts per billion, the lab reported.
Gallery Acres' drinking water typically tests in the range of 15 to 25 ppb, Moeller said. Until the water line is complete, residents will continue to filter the water at their houses or use alternative sources, such as bottled water.
Arsenic has been an issue for other developments in the area also.
Solon officials have discussed the possibility of Trail Ridge Estates, a 350-unit mixed-used development planned for west of Solon near Gallery Acres West, tapping into the water main, Scott Kleppe, Solon's public works director said. Solon's Planning & Zoning Commission is considering annexation of that development.
'We would have some say before anyone else could tie into that,” Kleppe said of the new water main, which would be owned by Gallery Acres West. 'They cannot allow anyone else to connect without going through the city.”
Delays with the water main project have been frustrating to all parties.
Summers Enterprises, of Masonville, subcontracted that part of the project to Progressive Structures, of Elkader, said Todd Locher, an attorney representing Summers.
Travis Augustyn, part-owner of Progressive Structures, said Monday the contract with Gallery Acres West allows insulation to be used in places where the water main isn't deep enough to avoid freezing, but the city wants the main lowered.
'We've been trying to close out the project and every little thing gets trumped up,” Augustyn said. 'We just don't know if we can come to an agreement.”
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