How ARPA Funds Will Help This Northwest Iowa City Build A New Water Tower

New Sheldon, Iowa, water tower. Screenshot from City of Sheldon

By Ty Rushing

August 30, 2022

If all goes well, the city of Sheldon will have a new $3.5 million water tower up and running by June 2024, almost a decade after Public Works Director Todd Uhl first mentioned the need to the city council.

For years, the new water tower was a mainstay on Sheldon’s five-year capital improvement plan but stayed on the back burner as city leaders tried to figure out how to pay for the tower, which will be built on the community’s burgeoning east side.

The financial solution came from an unexpected source: The federal government.

“The ARPA funds really kickstarted the process,” said Sheldon City Manager Sam Kooiker, referring to funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

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A hallmark piece of legislation from President Joe Biden’s first year in office, ARPA provided state and local governments with $350 billion to use for public health, economic impacts, long-term investments, and more. 

Sheldon, a northwest Iowa city of a little more than 5,000 residents, received about $756,000 in ARPA dollars.

“We had a number of options in which to use it and, in talking with other cities, it seems that the easiest way to spend the money is on anything that’s SRF [State Revolving Fund] eligible,” said Kooiker. “So, basically, public infrastructure projects.” 

Sheldon’s leaders opted to use their allocated ARPA dollars for the new water tower. Like the city’s existing water tower, the new water tower will be able to hold 500,000 gallons of water, but unlike its predecessor, it won’t be bland.

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According to The Sheldon Mail-Sun, a six-person design team spent months coming up with the look and theme of the water tower. 

The new white tower will feature multiple SHELDON IOWAs in white bubble text on an orange and black background with scenescapes from around the community worked in, including a farmer harvesting crops, families spending time together, and an arch from Sheldon’s City Park.

New Sheldon, Iowa, water tower. Screenshot from City of Sheldon

For the uninitiated, the mascot for the Sheldon School District is the Orab, which means orange and black, hence the chosen colors for the water tower.  

In addition to the ARPA dollars, Kooiker said the city will use urban renewal and Tax Increment Financing funds. This allows the city to avoid passing the cost directly to residents who pay for water and wastewater services following a price increase a few years ago after the city built a new nearly $10 million wastewater treatment plant to keep up with federal and state regulations.

“So we’re able to build this much-needed water tower without raising water rates,” Kooiker said. “We’re pretty excited, and the ARPA funding was key to making that work.”

by Ty Rushing

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To contact Senior Editor Ty Rushing for tips or story ideas, email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @Rushthewriter 

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  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

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