Lee County, Fort Madison Still Split On Water Deal

Fort Madison, IA – The expansion and renovation of the Lee County Jail complex led to the need for a new water source. Additional water pressure is needed for a sprinkler system.

Lee County looked into working with Keokuk and the Rathbun Regional Water Association before deciding to purchase water from Fort Madison. The city is building a new water plant, near Montrose, so a water line will run near the Lee County Jail.

Fort Madison originally said the water would be available by January 1. After several delays, a connection is now possible prior to an April 15 permitting deadline.

The city and the county have been working on a purchase agreement for months. City Manager Byron Smith says Fort Madison would like to have that in place before making that final connection.

The Fort Madison City Council has approved the latest version of the agreement, pending county approval. County approval is not expected, though, any time soon.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors expressed concerns about several aspects of the agreement, less than 12-hours before Fort Madison acted on the purchase agreement. The supervisors said they had concerns about a proposed land swap, the length of the deal, and the need for annexation.

City Manager Byron Smith says Fort Madison was unaware of the county's concerns. He says the two sides plan to meet to come up with a mutual agreement.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has agreed to buy the water at a higher rate, while the agreement is being worked out, to meet that April 15 deadline.