Kingbrook Rural Water Builds for the Future

November 2018 -

Kingbrook Rural Water, South Dakota’s fourth-largest rural water system, is seeing an influx of dairies and hog confinement facilities in its service territory. That growing demand has spurred Kingbrook to embark on a $12.8 million expansion project. General manager Randy Jencks describes what’s keeping him and his 15 employees busy.

Explain Kingbrook’s new $12.8 million expansion project.

It’s our largest expansion project in 20 years. We’re building a 600,000-gallon water storage tank and adding more than 200 miles of 12-inch and 14-inch pipeline. The expansion will help us serve 250 new customers. Most are local residents building new homes, but many are large livestock entities. Depending on its size, a dairy can consume as much water as 400 individual users. The new tank is being constructed at one of our three treatment plants, which sit 80 miles apart from each other. The project will increase capacity in the middle of our system and improve our overall reliability. We expect to complete it in the fall of 2019.

How is that project being financed?

We received a loan of $10.8 million and a grant of $1.387 million from USDA’s Rural Development (RD) Water and Environmental Program in 2017. Kingbrook contributed $575,000 of its own. CoBank provided interim construction financing to cover the $10.8 million RD loan as well as bridge financing for the engineering and design phase. The CoBank funding allowed us to move forward with the project while the USDA direct loan will be put in place upon project completion.

What other recent upgrade has Kingbrook implemented?

We’re just completing a $1 million project to replace our self-read meters with an automatic meter reader (AMR) system that uses mobile technology. The AMR system is being installed at 4,900 service locations. It will really help in providing accurate meter readings and preventing losses in billing revenue. It also has an outstanding customer portal that our members can access with their smartphones, iPads or computers to monitor their usage. We’re very satisfied with the end result.

How do you get these projects greenlighted?

It all starts with our board’s annual strategic planning session. Our board has seven members, all with agricultural backgrounds. They determine what needs to be done, and they have the authority to apply for funding, so we don’t need to obtain member approval for each project. For the initial funding, we either apply through the State of South Dakota or USDA. We’ve looked to CoBank to refinance our USDA loans with better interest rates and shorter terms at least three times in the last 10 years.

What challenges does Kingbrook face?

One is planning for the replacement of our three water treatment plants. At this stage of our maturity – they were constructed in the late 1970s and early 1980s – they’re reaching capacity. That could easily be a $10 million project that could stretch out for 10 years. Another is cybersecurity. It’s not a problem, but it’s a definite concern. We’ve never been hacked, but another South Dakota water system was a couple of years ago. We want to ensure we stay on top of things.

Kingbrook Rural Water Association, Inc.

Headquarters
Arlington, South Dakota

General Manager
Randy Jencks

Years with CoBank
30

Number of Water and Sewer Customers
15,000 (in 11 counties)

Miles of Pipeline
3,000

Website
kingbrookruralwater.com