Members of the Sheridan County Commission, the Sheridan City Council and SAWS, along with a handful of City employees attended a work session in City Hall Wednesday afternoon. The purpose was to hear a presentation from Brian Kuehl of The Clark Group on recommendations from a study they did at the behest of the Council.
The study was to determine the history of how long any levels of the microorganism cryptosporidium may have been present in the area's water system, EPA requirements, and most importantly, how to acquire funding sources, since the project could cost anywhere from between $4- to $8-million.
Kuehl recommended the group get a second opinion regarding the microorganism levels in the water; over a six-year period, there have only been seven days showing spikes in the levels. However, four of those spikes occurred between August 2005 and December 2006.
Kuehl also recommended an investigation into the source, saying he hoped they could find an "easy win" – i.e. something obvious like a localized herd of cattle or an area with septic systems upstream from the treatment plant.
Regarding possible federal money, Kuehl told the group that a program called Section 595 which was originally developed through the Water Resources Development Act in 1999 for Montana and rural Nevada, had been expanded to include several other Western and Midwestern states, thanks to an amendment pushed through the US Senate by the late Senator Craig Thomas in 2007. Ironically, the senator died two weeks after the amendment passed, and Wyoming has never pursued any of the $30 million available through that fund. Mayor Dave Kinskey echoed the group's excitement about that piece of news.
Other recommendations would be to file for up to a two-year extension of time, look for funding sources through state levels, or to consider acquiring money through a State Revolving Loan Fund.