(MITCHELL) - Mitchell city council and board of works members along with Steve Gress toured the city's suffering wastewater treatment facility Tuesday.
Gress is a senior project engineer for Donohue & Associates which is an engineering firm that specializes in water, wastewater and transportation solutions.
Krystal Shetler of the Times-Mail reports that a worn out facility painted a dim picture for officials.
The facility revamped, rebuilt and opened in 1989 is constantly needed repairs to just keep the sewer facility processing waste.
Gress told officials the plant is at the end of its service life.
Mayor Gary Pruett says the city is moving forward with plans that would extensively upgrade the plant. Not only will the new equipment and additional machinery keep the plant functioning for another 20 years it will increase capacity - something needed if new industry, business or homes are built within city limits.
The plant has several issues that need addressed:
Out of four clarifier tanks; two primary and two final tanks; only two were operational, one of each.
Darrell Boone, the plant's operator, said the need for upgrades and repairs is dire because if one of those tanks goes down the city will be in real trouble.
Another problem if the lack of working grinders. One grinder does not function and the other is barely functioning. Boone says without a grinder, plastics and other products - visible on top of the water instead of being caught in screens - are being processed, contaminating sludge that could otherwise be sold to local farmers for fertilizer. Now, the city must haul truckloads of sludge to Cannelburg and pay a company there to take it.
If the problem is fixed the sludge can be sold to local farmers, thereby not only saving the city money, but possibly making it money.
Repairs are not scheduled at the plant until the spring of 2015. Before then, city officials and engineers must prepare an affordable plan to make the repairs and upgrades while coming up with a funding solution.
A scope of work has been prepared by Donohue & Associates, but there is no cost associated with the project yet. Gress says when that is determined the city will seek a bond issue through an application with the State Revolving Fund. That application will be made before July in order for a construction permit to be issued through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Mayor Pruett added that some of the money for the project will come from the city's sewer account, which is funded strictly through user fees and not tax dollars, but that won't cover the entire project,
The remaining cost of the project will have to be covered by a loan, which means sewer fees for city residents will eventually need to be increased. But, Pruett says without a cost for the project, there is no way to estimate those increases, or even an amount for the bond. Officials should now more on the cost by April.
The project, which must be put out for bid before the city can close on its loan , will be bid in November 2014. Gress expects construction to begin in March 2015.
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