Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Sewer options debated

December 20, 2000

Baldwin City needs a new wastewater treatment plant. The Baldwin City Council already knew that. On Monday night, the council reviewed and approved a preliminary engineering study on the city's wastewater needs, and gave the OK for city officials to seek complete engineering for a 900,000-gallon treatment facility anticipated to cost about $3.4 million and expected to meet the community's needs for at least 20 years.

BG Consultants, an engineering firm that conducted a study of the city's wastewater treatment plant, presented the city with five options for a new treatment plant, but recommended a Schriber process because it is the least expensive to build and to maintain. Spring Hill, Eudora and Andover have similar facilities.

The engineering firm's estimates placed the cost at $4.2 million. However, city utility director Terry McKinney said the city can save money by using some existing equipment.

"We believe some of the equipment can be reused," McKinney said. "That is going to lower the cost down. We feel fairly comfortable with the $3.4 million figure."

Pat Cox, of BG Consultants, recommended the city build a 900,000-gallon facility to meet capacity needs for two decades.

"It's a good rule of thumb, when we design a plant, that it needs to operate for 20 years," Cox said. "That is basically what your plant has done. It's a good plant and it has operated well."

One council member, Lee Whaley, favored building a 450,000-gallon facility and adding another 450,000-gallon capacity in 10 years, if needed mentioning the city would need a Ouija board to predict growth for 20 years. Cox said that option would cost more in the long run, because of inflation, which he estimated to be $500,000 more in construction costs.

The report also presented several funding methods the city can pursue. McKinney said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has already set aside $3 million for Baldwin City, because of the urgency of the project. Because of some unreported pump failures discovered in October, the city has had trouble complying with ammonia regulations.

"We weren't getting rid of waste and had a build up of ammonia," McKinney said. "We think we are back in compliance."

The money reserved for Baldwin is from the State Revolving Loan Fund, a low interest loan program for wastewater projects. Cox said the interest rate on Monday was 3.34 percent and that rate would be good for the life of a 20-year loan.

The city also plans to pursue $400,000 in grant money through the Community Development Block Grant program, which has also helped fund the Newton Street electric substation, construction of a digester at the treatment plant and sewer line replacement. The process would include an application and interview with the Kansas Intergovernmental Agency Committee, which includes KDHE, Rural Development and the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing.

"You could fall into any one of their criteria and do well," said Cecil Kingsley, of BG Consultants. He noted that Baldwin has been successful in obtaining Community Development Block Grants in the past.

With the council's approval, McKinney expects interviews with engineering firms by mid-February and bidding the project by late February.

"We are still looking at late 2002 to have it all done," McKinney said.

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