WALLOWA – Before the City of Wallowa can submit its application for Phase 2 of the overall $3.2 million water improvement project that’s under way, a traditional cultural properties study needs to be completed by the Nez Perce Tribe Cultural Resource Program, of Lapwai, Idaho.

Wallowa Mayor Ron Philbrook says the study will cost the City of Wallowa $8,325 and be conducted by the tribe.

Project Engineer Troy Baker, of Anderson Perry & Associates, of La Grande, says such cultural studies are commonplace because funds for the work are coming from the federal government. In this case, all of the work is being paid through Community Development Block Grants. No delays of the water project are anticipated.

The underlying purpose of the project, says Baker, is to provide “redundancy and reliability” to Wallowa’s water system, which now is fully operational but lacks a backup.

Phase 1, funded in the amount of $323,000, is nearing completion for design work and the goals today are to have the Nez Perce inventory completed by May 15 and the city’s application for money for Phase 2 in the mail before the end of the second quarter, or by June 30, says Baker.

According to the project engineer, a decision has been reached to seek two bids for Phase 2 of the project. The first will be for well drilling where it’s hoped the driller will be able to tap into the same aquifer from which the city’s water is currently drawn.

That well, located at Douglas Street and Highway 82 just north of Goebel’s Service, currently pumps 1,300 gallons per minute and the goal for well #2 is at least 1,000 gallons per minute, Baker says.

The second bid will be to create a new reservoir, install meters, add a new pump to the distribution system and repair old water lines, and to upgrade well #1.

If things go well, says Baker, the advertisement for bids and public bidding process could occur this fall and be awarded in time to first turn dirt on the project by the spring of 2013. If that does happen, a projected completion date for the work could be late fall or early winter of 2013.

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