In north-central Nowata County, Lenapah serves about 323 people in less than a square mile. Lenapah is primarily an agricultural community.

The Cherokee Nation referred Lenapah to Communities Unlimited (CU) for funding assistance when they experienced financial strains due to COVID-19.

The Town of Lenapah has a leaking water storage standpipe. The standpipe has been leaking for several years and does not allow the tank to fill. Even when full, the standpipe’s elevation is not high enough to provide adequate pressure to the remote customers in the system. Lenapah needed to construct a new water storage tower. The new water tower will hold 50,000 gallons of water, and new distribution lines will provide adequate pressure for both domestic and fire flows. The town started searching for funding.

The town applied for and received a grant from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma for $700,000 to construct the elevated water storage tank. The application was submitted in early 2021. However, cost increases because of COVID-19 increased the project’s costs significantly.

CU Senior Environmental Management Specialist Julie Hudgins meets with Lenapah, OK
CU Senior Environmental Management Specialist Julie Hudgins meets with Lenapah, OK to work with them on their leaking standpipe

Cherokee Nation referred Lenapah to CU to assist with funding to move the project forward. An additional loan from CU will help fund any shortfalls from the grant and pay for any connecting piping.

CU assisted the Town Clerk of Lenapah in gathering all the information needed to complete the CU Loan Application. The application was submitted in March of 2022 and approved, providing the system with the additional funds needed. While working with Lenapah, CU assisted with a Cross-Connection Control Program (CCCP), a rate analysis, a budget analysis, and other financial reports. Lenapah will soon begin constructing its new water tower to decrease water loss and ensure all customers receive an adequate water supply.

CU’s Senior Community Environmental Management Consultant, Julie Hudgins, worked with Lenapah on the project.

“I worked with the water operator to separate Capital Outlay expenditures from Operations and Maintenance expenditures, which allowed the proposed customer rates to be reduced, meeting their Operating Ratio of 1.05.” Julie said.