CLEARWATER -- A project intended to prepare Clearwater for growth has now been postponed until next year.

The city has pushed back starting its water main project while it works mostly with residents who currently have well water instead of city water. City Administrator Kevin Kress says they are working with five property owners right now.

"We're in the process of obtaining five different property easements. Some are in the township, some are in the city and they all run under Interstate-94. Some of the issues we ran into [with residents] are already existing utilities in the area and some of the property was quite valuable, some of them felt. So we are looking at alternate options to stay in existing [easements] right away, where there are already utilities. We are weighing out the options of what is most cost-effective."

Easements would give the city the ability to place utility hookups on a property even though the city doesn't own the land. However, the property owner has to agree to an easement and can charge the city for using their land. Kress says most of the time it would be a minimal charge to the city.

Clearwater has just one water main right now that crosses the north side of Interstate 94. It comes under the freeway to the south side of town. Mayor Pete Edmonson says a second water main will help Clearwater during emergency situations. If the water main needs to be shut off at any time, Edmonson says a good portion of the city would be without water.

"That [an emergency situation] would cut off 25-40 percent for the water main. As we continue to grow, future-cast, looking south on traveling on Highway 24 and evolving toward County Road 7 more, we have to look at the capacity that one water main can is able to bring. This is where we've reached our limit on that water main."

The cost of the project is still expected to be the same at just over $1 million. Kress says most of the project would be funded by grants and possibly bonding money.

The water main project was expected to start this spring but with the current easement issues, the city is looking to start the project next year. Once work begins it should be about four-five months to complete.