PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kan. (KSNW) – The town of Pretty Prairie will need to wait to build a new water treatment facility. A federal grant worth $500,000 was denied recently, putting the small town in a difficult position.
Mayor Mike Seyb says this has been a 20-year “tug of war” between the town and the Environmental Protection Agency in figuring out what to do about the town’s water. Since Pretty Prairie’s water doesn’t meet safety standards, losing money to build a new treatment facility has put Pretty Prairie’s plans to build a water treatment plant on hold.
Aaron Kelley works at Prairie Sunset Home, one of the town’s biggest users of water.
“The situation in Pretty Prairie was one of the first things after I came here that came pretty apparent that the city’s in a bit of a crisis,” said Kelley.
So far, that crisis doesn’t have an end in sight. The federal grant would have provided funds to build the plant. Now, that money’s gone.
“I couldn’t believe it,”aid Pretty Prairie resident Stephen Vogt. “We depended on that, we thought we were top on the list, (and) because of (a) technicality, we didn’t get it.”
Mayor Mike Seyb said the town not getting the funds has to do with it not getting its paperwork in on time. He says town officials will continue to follow their current system which includes providing bottled water to several residents under the EPA’s guidelines.
“We have to furnish it for pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants up to six months,” said Seyb. That means that will come at a cost to the city of about $1,000 per year.
Seyb says other residents drink the town’s water, in part because the EPA has yet to prove whether the high level of nitrates can prove troublesome.
He says he and other city council members say they’re now stuck in a holding pattern and must wait until they can re-apply for federal funding.
As for those who live and work in Pretty Prairie, they hope a solution comes sooner rather than later.
“I hope the community is able to get through it and they don’t have to suffer and don’t have to suffer from punishment on the part of the Federal Government,” Kelley said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Seyb says the city can re-apply for the federal grant money again in October with the hope the grant will come through about this time next year.