A small town near one of the Iowa Great Lakes has to set up new oversight of its drinking water supply.

For the past eight decades, the City of Orleans has been buying its drinking water from the City of Spirit Lake. Orleans City Attorney Don Hemphill says the Department of Natural Resources wants someone to be responsible for the quality of the water that comes out of the town’s taps –and Spirit Lake has notified Orleans it does not want to assume responsibility for the water distribution system in Orleans.

“And that responsibility involves testing and monitoring and operations,” Hemphill says, “so that brings us to where we have got to make a significant change.”

Hemphill says the Orleans City Council has two basic options.

“One is to accept bulk water from Spirit Lake and establish their own distribution system and the other is to turn the system to Iowa Lakes Regional Water, which is willing to operate it,” he says. “Either way is going to involve significantly increased costs.”

The Orleans City Council has asked an engineering firm to analyze the two alternatives and determine which is cheaper in the long run. Orleans, which is near the southern shore of Big Spirit Lake, has about 520 permanent residents according to the 2020 Census, but its population swells during the summertime when the Iowa Great Lakes region becomes a vacation spot.

(By George Bower, KICD, Spencer)

Radio Iowa