Tama Council approve lead water line program

News and notes from the Jan. 3 Tama City Council meeting

News Chronicle File Photo

In their first meeting of the new year the Tama City Council unanimously approved a $98,000 commitment of federal American Rescue Plan funding to a lead water line replacement program.

Tama Street Superintendent Stuart Eisentrager addressed the council about the proposed program saying the city has encountered lead water service lines in the past and there is concern there may be more lead lines within the older parts of the city that have not been discovered or replaced.

Health risks of lead in drinking water have been identified from exposure of lead into the bloodstream causing damage to the brain and kidneys. It can also interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body and is particularly hazardous to children and pregnant women.

Another issue the city experiences when they discover lead water lines while digging or working underground, is a requirement by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to have the lead line replaced, regardless if the homeowner is prepared to do the work or not.

The proposed program would allow residents with older property who suspect there may be lead water lines still in use underground to have the city test their water line for lead.

If the line is discovered to be made of lead the city would pay to have the line replaced at minimal expense to the homeowner.

Eisentrager said the city would conduct the testing but would look to bid the replacement work with local contractors if there are those interested and available.

Line replacements will happen in batches of five in order to make an orderly workflow for the contractor and the city.

An application for the program will be developed in the coming weeks and will be advertised and available on a first come, first served basis until the $98,000 program funding is expended.

Specific details of the program are still being determined and will be announced at a later date.

In total, the City of Tama was allocated $406,000 in federal relief aid through the American Rescue Plan.

This fall the council approved $45,000 of the funding to be spent on future paramedic salaries and $65,622 to be spent on premium pay for city employees that performed essential work functions through the pandemic in 2020.

Cities have until 2024 to commit their balance of their American Rescue Plan funding and until 2026 to spend the funding.

In other business…

A building permit was approved by the council in December for a new retail property at 806 State St/Highway 63. The property is the site of the former South Tama Primary School that was sold in September by the South Tama School District to One Site Development, LLC of Cedar Falls for $15,000. According to developer Jeff Stickfort, the property is being developed into a 10,500 square-foot Family Dollar store that is expected to open in early 2023.

Donovan Horne was unanimously approved as a new member to the Tama Board of Adjustments. The board meets on an as-needed basis to hear and decide requests for variances and exceptions from the regulations contained in the city’s zoning ordinance. Horne will begin a five-year term in replacement of retiring member Jim Plantz. There remains one vacancy on the board the council will work to fill. Other current members include Sue Carnahan, Cecil Bearden and Mike Wedmore.

The council heard the results of the Tama EMS Department officer elections. Newly-elected City Council member Brian Hanus was elected EMS Director by 9-2 vote. City Council member Larry Thomas was elected Assistant Director by a 7-4 vote. Jeremy Cremeans was elected treasurer by a 10-1 vote. Duane Backen was elected secretary by a 10-1 vote. Donovan Horne was elected Maintenance Officer by a 10-1 vote.

Repair work on one of the city’s well pumps was approved in the amount of $42,752 to Cahoy Pump Service of Sumner.