Good things come to cities that show patience and perseverance.

For American Fork, the "good thing" is a no-interest loan from the state Safe Drinking Water Committee to help pay for a $2.5 million culinary water improvement project.The $885,000 loan will allow the city to borrow other funds at a lower interest rate, saving $780,000 on interest payments over the next 20 years, said Mayor B. Kay Hutchings.

The city also will probably not have to raise water rates as high as it originally anticipated to help pay for improvements to the water system.

"It will effect rate increases, but we don't know yet to what extent," said Carl Wanlass, budget officer.

In November, the City Council said base water rates would increase $2.50, from $6 to $8.50, and that the overage rate - the amount charged per 1,000 gallons over a base of 6,000 gallons used, would increase 15 cents, from 50 cents to 65 cents. Also, water and sewer connection fees were anticipated to increase $300, from $850 and $800 respectively.

American Fork residents approved the water system improvement project during the November election. City officials met with the water committee three times before having its loan request approved.

The city now will be able to borrow the rest of the money for the project at between 4 percent and 5 percent interest, Wanlass said. American Fork also has applied for a $1 million low- or no-interest loan from the Board of Water Resources. City officials will find out in March whether they'll get that loan.

In the meantime, American Fork will take out short-term bond anticipation notes, Wanlass said, to cover costs of the project.

The water project, which will begin in the spring, will include construction of a 5 million-gallon storage reservoir and new distribution and supply lines in the northwest part of the city, conversion of two wells purchased from the American Fork Irrigation Co. from irrigation to culinary use, and installation of new water meters in city parks and in the city cemetery.

The improvements will double the city's water storage capacity and its water supply capacity.