HOPE – From parking renovations and an antique-style town clock to an expanded Yellow Trail Museum and barn quilts displays, Bartholomew County’s second-largest incorporated city seems to be shining brighter than ever these days.

But while one of the most noticeable improvements in Hope are newly paved streets, it is what’s buried below much of that fresh asphalt that may benefit this community of 2,100 residents the most.

A $3 million project that called for replacing 14,000 feet of the town’s antiquated water mains is on target to be completed this fall, town officials said.

The only part of the project that remains is finishing a butterfly hookup of the main control valve at County Road 600 North, which will be completed this fall, said David Clouse, Hope’s utilities director.

The town has been working on the problem since a 2014 study by Strand Associates, Inc., a Wisconsin-based firm with an Indiana office in Columbus, confirmed that about 45 percent of the town’s water was leaking into the ground.

When studies showed that half of the water mains in Hope were more than 80 years old, the town sought and received a $600,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and began taking steps to keep more of the water it purchases from Eastern Bartholomew Water Corp.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.