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IDNR finds Britt water project environment friendly; old tower can be removed

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On Nov. 10, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued a finding of no adverse effect or significant environmental impact related to Britt's drinking water infrastructure upgrade project.

The review is required as part of the Iowa Finance Authority state revolving loan being used to help fund the project.

The City of Britt also entered into a memorandum of agreement with the IDNR and Iowa's State Historic Preservation Office to formalize the specific mitigation steps that will be taken to remove Britt’s historic 1935 water tower.

The agreement notes that if project activities uncover any item(s) that might be of archaeological, historical, or architectural interest, the city should make reasonable efforts to avoid further impacts to the property until an assessment can be made.

Britt mayor Ryan Arndorfer said the agreement formalizes and specifies specific actions of which city officials had been advised regarding the tower removal previously.

“It takes them a while to complete the paperwork,” Arndorfer said. “It’s basically saying, yes, you can tear down the old water tower. We will use three pieces of the legs of the old water tower in a sculpture outside the new water plant.”

Arndorfer said the largest of those sculpture pieces is about 12 feet in length with the others only slightly smaller, so it should be a fairly sizeable sculpture.

In addition, Arndorfer said there will be a photo with information about the historic tower inside the new plant as well as a bronze plaque with an image and brief history, pending State Historic Preservation Office approval.

The coating of the historic tower to be removed, and memorialized, contains lead and is in poor condition. There are also physical safety concerns with the tower’s access equipment and the tower’s overflow pipe, according to IDNR report findings.

Britt’s 1955 water treatment facility is largely beyond its useful life and has not been significantly updated to date. It is the next part of the city's water infrastructure scheduled for replacement.

The IDNR reviewed potential environmental impacts of the overall project, including construction, historical and archaeological preservation, effects upon special interest groups, wildlife, and nearby land use. The IDNR states that no adverse effect or significant environmental impact is foreseen as a result of the project at this time.

Maguire Iron Inc. worked through the summer on the first phase (new tower) of the city's large-scale municipal water upgrades. Water tower capacity increases from 100,000 to 150,000 gallons with the change of towers.

Construction of the new water treatment plant should begin next spring and summer. It could be completed in 2023 before city moves forward with plans for a significant wastewater treatment project.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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