Sheldon, IA, on Water Watch Waiting for Government to Pay Up

(SHELDON, IA) The city of Sheldon, Iowa, has put its residents on a water watch. The city's water plant is taking in less water than it did last year at this time and city leaders say if the trend continues the request to conserve could become an order.

The city manager says water is limited so they're encouraging residents to cut back on watering their lawns, washing their cars and filling pools or ponds.

The City was supposed to become part of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water system last year. But a lack of federal funding could some day leave them high and dry.

"Everything takes water, I mean you take it for granted," says Jeff Baatz, a Sheldon resident.

But Jeff Baatz and his family stopped watering their grass last year during the drought.

"I would take water any day over a green yard. If you couldn't wash your clothes, if you couldn't take baths or wash your dishes, I mean that would be a hardship," says Baatz.

Which is why the water watch isn't bothering him. Sheldon's City Manager, Scott Wynja says the city is doing everything it can to get more water and for now, asking residents to cut back on their usage.

"We have a number of shallow wells and we have one deep well that is approximately 600 feet deep. The issue we have is that we can get quite a bit of water out of that deep well but the quality of water is not very good," says Wynja.

Wynja says the City plans to add another deep well but says it's a "band aid" approach to the overall problem.

A few months ago, Sheldon saw record low water levels and now the water plant says it's taking it 300 gallons of water less per minute than it was last year.

Wynja says the city did have a long-term plan - the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System.

"For being a member we're allocated 1.3 million gallons of water through that system but the problem is the federal government is obligated to pay 80 percent of that project. All the locals and all the states have pre-paid their share," says Wynja.

But the Government hasn't paid up, leaving the project at a stand-still - only half way done. It was supposed to be completely finished by 2012.

One Local Business says not finishing the project is messing with people's livelihood.

"If we had that additional water source then we wouldn't be having this problem so it's something that the federal government needs to think about," says Chad Visser, owner of Midwest Garden Center in Sheldon.

The Lewis & Clark system finally began delivering water to 11 of its 20 members last July. Wynja says Sheldon has considered borrowing the money to finish its section of the water system. but the city is afraid it won't be reimbursed for that cost by the federal government.

Sioux Center, IA, and Hull, IA, are also dealing with the same problem.