Cologne council mulls sewer projects

By Adam Gruenewald
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As expected, Cologne council members were faced with several expensive engineering projects as a result of aging infrastructure.
The news was presented by City Engineer Jake Saulsbury and Aaron Schmidt of Bolton and Menk during the regular meeting on Monday, May 1.
Saulsbury outlined two potential projects, one relating to the drainage of Conrad Avenue and the other more sizable project related to addressing  inflow and infiltration concerns in the city.
The drainage concerns of Conrad Avenue were first presented in September 2016, and Saulsbury updated the council on topographic study that was completed in April. He outlined the concerns relating to the wetlands, a MNDOT right-of-way as well as challenges with routing the water to adjust for sediment deposits in a culvert on Louis Street.
“We have a problem in that wetland area as far as the data shows,” said Saulsbury, sharing the wetland elevation is about 942 feet and the elevation across Louis Street is 940 feet. “So ideally elevation should be 2 feet lower than it actually is”
Because of the unique situation, Saulsbury said the management of the wetland could function as it currently does with both the dredging of the existing wetland channel and extending the storm sewer.
Initial costs could range  between $10,000 and $15,000 for dredging and $13,000 in piping.
Council members, including Kyle Evenski, were in favor of the project, and gave the go-ahead to Saulsbury to notify adjacent business owners, including Fritz Enterprise.
“We want our city to grow,” said Evenski. “Fritz Enterprise is staple in the community, we don’t want to put precedence on any business, but if this will alleviate other issues it’s a no brainer moving forward.”
Council members also pushed Saulsbury to pursue extensive, and at times difficult to acquire, wetland permitting for the project.
“We’re not changing it but we’re trying to restore it to the way it was intended to,” said Saulsbury, adding there are several “chefs in the kitchen” in terms of organizations that would have to give approval.
Pending permits, the wetland could be dredged in the winter with the street construction taking place in the summer.
In related news, the city also resumed an ongoing discussion on inflow and infiltration concerns and a plan that was first adopted in 2013.
On Monday, Saulsbury outlined the concerns in District 1, which includes downtown and some of the older parts of town, as well as the potential cost of $656,000.
Council members took no official action given the absence of City Administrator Jesse Dickson who could provide budgetary options, but did discuss the well-known issues in the district.
As reported previously, Saulsbury estimated the city is spending on average $28,000 per year on inflow and infiltration based on the overall 53.1 million gallons that are entering the wastewater treatment plant and the excess of 12 million gallons as compared with dryer months.
“District 1 is the bulk of the problem,” said Saulsbury, sharing that the pipes are clay which was the industry standard in the 1950s and 1960s.
Included in the projected costs of over $656,000 are $600,00 for cured in-place pipe lining which lines the entire segments of pipe, rather than individual repairs.
Council members questioned Saulsbury on potential starting places to cover the most problematic areas of District 1, knowing the other districts in town may have issues as well though not as extensive.
“It’s very similar throughout,” said Saulsbury of district one. “There isn’t a candidate or two that would have to be done today… A good approach would be to identify that number (budget) and identify projects for every year or every other year.”
Council members agreed they would revisit the inflow and infiltration project needs with budget numbers in hand at a future meeting.
In other news, council members approved a $4,510 contract with Michel Masonry Construction to address drainage concerns around the splash pad, approved a personal leave request and expressed their initial support of the “Ted Foss Move Over Law” which is in honor of Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Ted Foss and relates to providing additional space for emergency personnel and utility workers on roadways.
The Cologne City Council will next meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 22.
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.