Odessa mayor offers village water updates
ODESSA--Mayor Gerry Messmer recently met with United States Department of Agriculture officials to begin the process of applying for a grant to determine the source of the village's brown water.
Messmer said that the grant would be for $40,000 and, if received, would be used to commission an engineering study to determine the exact source of the iron contamination of the water.
"We are going through the process with the USDA right now, so the first step is to get the grant which will let the engineers do a 100 percent study of the water lines, let them find out what is the root problem of the (iron) sludge. That root problem is undetermined until that study is completed," Messmer said.
In the meantime, Messmer reiterated that the water is safe to drink.
"It's important that people know that their water is tested 365 days a year, it is safe to drink, it does have a high iron content but it is safe to drink and to shower in," Messmer said.
Despite being safe to drink and bathe in, Messmer said that the water, which has been an issue in Odessa for roughly 10 years, has been impacting people's lives.
"I have seen the damage it has done to other people's appliances...I am the first mayor to address it and made it my number one priority since taking office, and I have been working on it for 18 months," Messmer said.
Calling officials with the USDA a "great group of guys," Messmer said they are working closely with the village to ensure that the grant application is done correctly the first time. If everything goes smoothly, he added, he hopes the engineering study is performed around June of next year.
"The timeframe does not concern me because we want one solution to solve the problem. That means you have to do it right the first time and not do band-aid fixes," Messmer said.
Despite not knowing the cause of the problem, Messmer said that any fix will probably cost in the range of 1-2 million dollars.
"We are looking to break ground in spring of 2021 (for building a permanent solution), which is not as fast as people would like but if you want it right it does take time, and you don't want to rush to failure," Messmer said.
He added that the cost will likely be funded through any number of combinations of grants and bonds.
"It would be huge to have this problem fixed, a lot of people are frustrated with their water and thinking of leaving, and with a solution people will stay. They want to stay, they want to see it fixed, and it is important they know their mayor is working on this and I am being aggressive and proactive."
In the meantime anyone concerned about the presence of brown water in their homes damaging their appliances can call the Odessa Department of Public Works.
"Currently they can't solve it, but we can do some things to help mitigate it in the short term," Messmer said.
As to residents who have had appliances that did not make their life expectancy due to the increased iron content of the water, Messmer said there is nothing the village can do.
"The village doesn't have the funds to replace people's appliances, that isn't a reality, there is just not enough funding available to do it," Messmer said.