Hull, IA cheese factory expansion in holding pattern
By Tia Heidebrecht, Internet Director - bio | email
HULL, Iowa (KTIV) -
The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System was designed to deliver water to 20 different communities throughout Siouxland.
Eleven of the cities are connected and are getting water, but another nine remain in limbo.
Cheese company Agropur came to Hull, Iowa, in 2008 looking for a site to build on. They needed a place with abundant natural resources, especially water.
"The city of Hull had good access to water supplies," said Tim Czmowski, general manager of Agropur.
Back then, the federal government gave the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System as much as $20 million a year to fund pipelines to reach out the communities around them. But after topping out with a nearly $60 million stimulus payment in 2009, the money has dried up, leaving communities high and dry.
"When they (Agropur) came here, we told them that we were going to have the water available, and we're going to make sure that happens," said Van Roekel.
To fix the shortage, neighboring Sioux Center is building a well to supply Hull with more water. Van Roekel says the town had to invest in the $300,000 project to make it through the summer, keeping what they have going steady.
"Short term, it'll work but Plant 2 and phase 2, unless we have more additional water, we won't be able to make that investment," said Czmowski.
There's another issue Agropur faces before it can even expand. There's not enough milk in the area. It's importing up to 6,000 gallons a week from other places, including California.
"So, until milk is developed, the decision on whether there is enough water or not doesn't have to be made," said Czmowski.
Right now, 130 employees work at the plant on a 24-7 basis. Phase two would add another 40 or 50 to the work force. But they can't until they are connected.
"It provides the economic spin of the developing of a business and it gives young families reason to either stay here or move here because there's opportunity," said Czmowski.
But time may be running out.
"In the next year, it would be very critical for us to know where the water lies." said Czmowski.
Or phase two could flow somewhere else
Because of the extreme heat, the city of Hull has declared a water emergency. That means residents can't water their lawns or gardens, fill their pools or wash their cars.
The emergency restrictions are in place until further notice.
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