Residents voted for a bond and a sales tax in conjuction with the bond for $4 million to fund the project. The Department of Natural Resources has approved the project for about $3.5 million worth of bonds sold to the city as a direct loan that will fund the project.
The waste water treatment plant project will build a new treatment plant. "Their treatment plant is 35 years old," Ray said. "It's out used its useful life. This will be a complete makeover of the same type, which is an extended aeration oxidation ditch plant. We're going to rebuild it totally and get them into the capacity that they need to be able to operate and stay within compliance with DNR."
Ray said the oldest a water treatment plant can get before becoming inefficient is about 20 years.
Waste Water Treatment Manager Mike Alexander said he has noticed some problems with the current system. The main problem with the system, he said, is INI (inflow and infiltration). "What it is, is water that not normally is supposed to go through the sewer system that's infiltrating into our system; rain water, just all kinds of sewer line leaks where water is getting into the system and the treatment plant is just over the years deteriorating and the flow is getting extensive," Alexander said.
About 90 percent of the pipes in the system are clay tile pipes. Alexander said these types of pipes have a joint about every three feet and at every joint there is a possibility of leakage. "Basically, DNR has said, 'Fix it uptown or fix your treatment plant where it can handle it (extra flow).' We're going to do a little bit of both," Alexander said.
Ray estimated that crews will work on about 2,000 feet of sewer lines.
Alexander also said because the treatment plant is so old, parts of the plant are wearing out. "Our treatment plant has one clarifier. Last year, the clarifier went down and (DNR) told me, 'You're the only plant I know that has one clarifier.'" He said, usually, treatment plants have two clarifiers to divert flow if one of them goes down.
"We're still putting out a good quality effluent," Alexander said. "There are times when we're not able to stay online and we have to switch to a storm water basin, and that's what DNR is not happy about."
Alexander said plans for the project include turning the current clarifier into a sludge holding basin and there will be two larger new clarifiers to take the place of the one old clarifier.
"We passed the bonds; we made the application to DNR; we got funded, got on their attended use plan. That all happened through June. Now, we're just in the middle of the design, getting the plans done and ready to send in to DNR so that probably by the end of September we'll have some real good news to go to the people with and tell them that we have tentative approval from DNR. We can start looking at the closing on the bond issue with them and getting it ready to go out to the bidders and, hopefully, this fall we can get started," Ray said. "That's our goal. We've got everything approved except two items right now with DNR, and they have really been excellent to work with under this program."
The two items that haven't been approved yet are right-of-way insurance, which shows that the city owns the property where the project is going, and the plans and specifications of the project.
Currently, Ray said, he is not sure whether or not some funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) will go towards the project. Things will be more clear cut as the project progresses, he said.
Ray said that it is possible that workers can start breaking ground for the project in either November or December. The project will take about a year to complete once ground is broken. With the exception of smoke testing, which will continue over the next four years to reduce INI, Ray estimates the project will be finished by Dec. 31, 2010.