Miami's city manager said Wednesday that he wants to talk with rural water district officials about establishing interlocal agreements regarding water service.

Huey P. Long told utility board members that partnering with the rural water providers for backup supply services would mean a cost savings to the City of Miami and, in turn, would provide a secondary source of service to residents on the south side of the Neosho River.

According to city engineer Jack Dalrymple, water customers in the city's southwest quadrant are dependent upon a single link to the municipal water system - a small supply line bracketed to the Neosho River bridge.

Dalrymple said the line will soon need repairs as brackets securing the line are failing.

“The smart thing is to not attach it to the bridge,” Dalrymple said, noting that the current line is vulnerable as brackets deteriorate and break.

The city engineer said he is researching alternative ways to enhance water service for southwest customers, to include drilling a new well and burrowing under the river bed.

“We need to assure redundancy,” Dalrymple said.

Costs for alternative supply methods are estimated to fall between $140,000 to $180,000, according to Dalrymple.

Partnering with rural water districts, according to Long, will fill in an expected gap as cooperation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is necessary when attempting to move city services across a river.

“It could be a while,” Long said. “We need to put ourselves in a position of strength.”

At the request of city manager, utility board members agreed to allow the city to investigate the matter further.