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Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe continues water project

With funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Agriculture, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will soon have a new water system.

John Fairbanks, Leech Lake tribal engineer, said the $785,300 from the federal agencies contribute to the overall $4.8 million in improvements.

He said eight miles of water mains have been laid, the second of two new wells will be drilled this month and the water tower near the Palace Casino is up and should be painted by midsummer.

"We're working feverishly on getting our (water treatment) building up," Fairbanks said.

The whole system, which Fairbanks said has taken about 10 years, will be online by late fall.

Neighborhoods to be served by the new system will include Allens Bay, Tooterville, Cass Lake West, Birchwood Subdivision, Strawberry Fields, Thundering Sky and Tracts 33 and 34.

Fairbanks said the wells and treatment plant were planned for a different area, but band members who used private wells told him where the best water source was.

"I was very fortunate in finding a beautiful aquifer of water," he said. "I have an excellent source of water coming out of the ground."

Locating that source saved the project about $600,000, Fairbanks said.

Brett Coleman, Corps of Engineers project manager, said the new water tower will have a 250,000 gallon capacity. He said the agreement between the Leech Lake Band and the Corps was signed March 15. Building the treatment facility will also include a filtration system, landscaping and a security fence.