Several infrastructure projects are slated for Prairie City in the coming year, Mayor Jim Hamsher told the Eagle. A $1.8 million sewer main project will address cracked pipes identified by remote video, and well improvements will address water shortage problems experienced this past summer.
The sewer project will go to bid soon, Hamsher said. Work will begin along Highway 26 west of town, where a force main has been leaking. The city’s wastewater is pumped over a rise to the city’s lagoons, he said.
Additional work will be done around town to eliminate infiltration, which takes place in spring when groundwater is high. The goal is to reduce the cost of pumping the additional water that enters the pipes — first out to the lagoons and again to the spray irrigation system, Hamsher said.
A June 26 storm in Prairie City not only uprooted trees that crashed into houses and vehicles — lightning struck near the city’s No. 2 well, damaging electronics that controlled the water system. A crew was in the process of investigating the well with video when the storm hit.
The city already had concerns about water production from its three wells in summertime, and the storm damage just made the problem worse. Residents were asked to cut back on irrigation during the summer, and the city council gave Hamsher the authority to declare an emergency if the water supply reached a critical level.
The council wanted to ensure sufficient water existed for fire protection. The restrictions were lifted in October.
Hamsher said an engineer addressed the city council in December. The city’s water master plan will be updated, and plans are being developed to either rehabilitate well No. 2, which has casing problems, or to drill well No. 3 deeper. He said the city is also updating its water ordinance, including fees for overages. He said the ordinance hasn’t seen a revision in a long time.
Meanwhile, cleanup work continues at the former Prairie Wood Products sawmill west of town, which closed in 2008. Crews continue to bury potash at the site, which will later be replanted, Hamsher said. There are no plans to scrap out the steel buildings, with hopes they will one day be put back to use, he said.
Hamsher said there are no immediate plans for the city’s parks. Prairie City is home to three countywide events — a Fourth of July parade and fireworks, the Kruzers Car Show in August and Christmas on the Prairie in December.