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      Ft. Madison plans new water plant

      Ft. Madison, IA - Fort Madison residents will soon shell out a little more green on their water bills.

      The city is raising water rates by five percent April first. It's the final of four rate increases since 2005, put in effect to raise the 17 million dollars needed to build a new water treatment plant.

      Construction will soon begin on the state-of-the-art water treatment plant on the West edge of Fort Madison's city limits. When completed it will produce 5 million gallons of water a day. Fort Madison Mayor Steve Ireland says the expanded water capabilities will help attract new industry to town. But perhaps more important, is the two major problems its new plant's location will solve for the community. The first is security. The plant's location under a bluff, along the Mississippi makes security a huge challenge.

      It's current site on the river also makes flooding a major concern.

      In fact, just last week crews hauled in sandbags to put on standby to protect the plant just in case the flood waters got too high. Officials at the plant say last year the flood water was not too far from compromising the city's water supply.

      Ireland said, "In 1993 we had damage down there and we built up some levees in case that would happen again. Thank God we did that because it spared us in 2008. You never know when the next flood will be and we can't be without water in Fort Madison."

      The new water treatment plant will be built in a location well above previous flood levels. But Mayor Steve Ireland says what folks will notice the most about the new plant is how the water will actually taste.

      Ireland said, "It's not going to be river water. Anytime we have water out of wells, it will taste better and be a better quality."

      Construction is slated to be completed in 2011.

      Mayor Ireland says the city may be able to receive some stimulus money for its new water treatment plant construction, since it is a shovel-ready project.