The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

June 13, 2013

City, water works troubles water under the bridge

(Continued)

OTTUMWA —

Recent cooperation has included work on North Court Street alongside Hillcrest Park (commonly referred to as Reservoir Park), where water main breaks tore up the street.

"Instead of just doing half of the street with the water main, we're looking at doing the full street," Helfenberger said. "The city will pay their share and water works will do their share, then we'll get a new block instead of cobbling something together. It makes a lot more sense to do it that way."

Past issues between the two entities needed a lot of attention, he said, and needed to be addressed quickly.

"I think those issues have gotten resolved and there's been what I consider a high level of cooperation between water works and the city as far as trying to work together on addressing both the needs of water and other city infrastructure," he said. "That's the way it should be, and we want to continue making sure we're going on that path."

The only authority the city has over water works is the mayor's appointment of members to water works' board of trustees and the City Council's approval of the organization's annual budget, "but that's somewhat of a formality," Helfenberger said.

Ottumwa is not unique in its water utility being separate from the city.

"Most of the water utilities are autonomous in Iowa," Helfenberger said. "No city in Iowa has ever successfully reincorporated a water utility back into the city, and we don't have the desire to do that right now. As long as we get cooperation and working together to look at what's in the community's best interest as we're doing projects, that's all we're looking for. And I feel we're getting that now."

— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to @ChelseaLeeDavis.

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