Carlton County and Twin Lakes Township officials have been working for nearly two decades to build a new waterline in an effort to bring clean drinking water to all residents. Now, the estimated $8 million-$9 million project is scheduled to begin construction this summer.
“This is gonna be a huge win," District 4 Commissioner Mark Thell said.
The waterline will stretch from the city of Carlton to Olsonville Circle in Twin Lakes Township. It will run west along state Highway 210, underneath Interstate 35.
The water traveling in the new line will be sold to Twin Lakes Township from Carlton as part of a contracted agreement, according to Carlton Public Works Superintendent Derek Wolf.
Thell said he and other county officials have been working closely with department leaders from both areas to coordinate the effort, and now they are in the process of accepting construction bids.
“It's just amazing to be involved with a project like this," Thell said.
The project has evolved throughout the years, and will now include not only residents in Olsonville Circle, but also those in the Schmitz Road area who were affected by arsenic in their water several years ago.
The waterline will also service the Kwik Trip in Carlton and will feature a booster station by Black Bear Casino Resort that the establishment can access for water if needed.
As of now, all of the businesses and residents in the affected areas are using a well system for their water supply, including the Carlton County Transportation building and its surrounding land, Thell said.
According to Economic Director Mary Finnegan, the 220 acres of county-owned land along Highway 210 will likely have the potential for development after the waterline is completed.
She said county officials are tentatively discussing possible sales of the land, and she believes some tribal-owned property in the area would also see positive economic impacts from the line.
Thell anticipates the waterline will positively alter the entire infrastructure of the county.
“It’s really a great economic boost," he said.
According to Thell, the majority of the funding for the waterline is coming from $7.5 million designated to the project through a bonding bill passed by the state in November, with local funding options potentially covering any remaining expenses.
"It's really good that we got that bonding money," Commissioner Gary Peterson said.
He shared that a portion of the funds set to be received by the county through the American Rescue Plan in 2021 may also be put toward the waterline cost.
Peterson is also collaborating with the Lakes and Pines Community Action Council to possibly provide financial assistance to low-income families who can't afford the installation fees to have their water taps connected to the new line.
"This project has a huge impact on the area," Wolf said. "It provides the residents and business with quality and quantity of drinking water that is desperately needed."