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A work in progress

City, rural water work toward water rights solution

September 25, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

A dispute over water service rights for rural areas Marshalltown annexed in the 1990s has seen little headway.

The issue came to a head earlier this year when the stalemate between Central Iowa Water Association (CIWA) and Marshalltown Water Works stymied local church officials looking to build a series of new buildings in the area.

Problems at the Liberty Baptist Church's new youth building on 18th Avenue arose because the federal government gives CIWA services rights to the area, but since CIWA's water mains do not meet the size requirement for fire suppression, the city will not issue an occupancy permit.

Article Photos

Negotiations are still in the works to establish water rights in rural Marshalltown, particularly in outlying areas like Iowa Avenue near 18th Avenue, shown here Monday afternoon. Central Iowa Water Association is in the process of establishing the value of the territory so the Marshalltown Water Works can purchase the rights from it.

Now, CIWA and Marshalltown Water Works are in the process of working out an agreement that is beneficial to both parties.

"The essence of the problem out there is the possibility for economic growth is zero," said Steve Sincox, general manager of the Marshalltown Water Works.

CIWA is in the process of determining the value of its service rights so that the water works would be able to purchase those rights.

Jim LaPlant, CEO of CIWA, said it could take a month or two to work through the contracts.

"This is a new concept to us to try and evaluate what the territory is worth," he said.

Sincox said he is hoping the two agencies can come to an amicable agreement without legal action.

Tom Deimerly, president of Marshall Economic Development Impact Committee, said he is pleased the two agencies are discussing the matter.

"We are trying to make as business friendly an environment as possible," Deimerly said.

He said those rural areas annexed by the city, specifically along Iowa Avenue, are the prime growth corridor for economic development.

As long as the city doesn't have service rights, it does not anticipate growth in the area, Sincox added, echoing Deimerly's comments.

"We are exchanging information and talking, but it does take time," Sincox said.

Meanwhile, LaPlant said CIWA is trying to work out a special arrangement for the Liberty Baptist Church sometime in the next 60 to 90 days.

Randy Mason, pastor at Liberty Baptist, said neither CIWA nor Marshalltown Water Works have given him a time table as to when the issue with his church would be resolved. As far as he knows, he said, the issue is still at a standstill.



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