At the Casper City Council pre-meeting on Tuesday, the Council was asked to authorize the submission of the WaterSMART grant, in an amount of up to $3 million for river restoration work.

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"Councilors, the opportunity that's before us, with respect to this particular item, is more along the lines of making sure you're comfortable with our positioning ourselves to take advantage of a grant that we recently learned about at the federal level, that we believe the River Project is very well positioned to be considered for," said City Manager Carter Napier. "The problem is, as quite often happens, when we find out about the program and the program drops and is available and ready for application, the turnaround is usually pretty quick."

Napier said that the City did not have the advantage of understanding the WaterSMART grant immediately, or knowing that it was coming, until recently.

Napier opened up discussions for the Council and mentioned that the grant does have a matching component which, he believes, the River Fund can cover.

Jolene Martinez, the Assistant to the City Manager, explained more about the grant to the Council and spoke about why receiving this grant to benefit Natrona County.

Martinez stated that the project total could be $6,000,000 and that they could ask for $3 million, but that the match needs to be at least 25 percent, and it needs to be given in-kind, or with cash.

The restoration would occur near the Izaak Walton Reach area, by the water treatment plant. It would cover approximately 5,150 linear feet, Martinez said.

The total cost for the in-river construction and riparian and uplands work for the Izaak Walton First Street Reach is estimated to be over $4 million. If the City receives the $3 million grant, it would match with $1.5 million.

"We think that we are primed to be able to get this if we write it well, and so we're fervently trying to write, but waiting, obviously, for Council approval," Martinez said. "It's on your agenda tonight to approve whether we go further or not on this."

Mayor Knell said that the City already had the $1.5 million set aside for the project, which means it would be a fully-funded operation to get that section of the river restored.

Martinez stated that the City currently has $2.1 million in cash reserves for the River Restoration Fund.

"This is exactly the purpose of that fund," Napier stated. "It's to try to leverage larger dollars and, of course, do smaller things here and there. But that's exactly why we've tried to sort of capture these dollars over the years - is to try to leverage these kinds of opportunities."

The Council agreed by consent that the City could pursue the grant.

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