by HANNAH BROADBENT
The Watertown City Council has decided to spend $140k on “heavy maintenance” repairs for the wastewater treatment facility.
The plant was built in 1994 according to City Administrator Shane Fineran and hasn’t had any maintenance done as large as this project since. The city is hoping to repair the aeration basin, the trickling bridge and the digester.
The budget for the project was set by city staff. The city has picked the engineering firm, Bolton and Menk to survey the structures and create a design plan. Seth Peterson with the firm is confident in the project, and says they will have to work with the budget.
“To be honest, we’re not going to be able to do all those things so we’re going to scale back to a project that fits in those constraints,” Peterson said.
Bolton and Menk are putting together the design and sees four steps to the project. After the project plan is finished they will turn it over to a contractor to do the actual maintenance.
Peterson said the four steps are, 1. Preliminary design and site visit 2.Specific design plans as well as contracts 3. Bidding and quote phase, taking bids from contractors 4. Construction.
Peterson said he wants to make sure the council and community understands that these are not upgrades to the structures, only maintenance projects.
The city is planning on doing a much larger project to the facility in 2022 said Fineran. Fineran said the facility has almost reached its design life, including its capacity for residential units it can serve.
Another reason why there is a need for the bigger project is that the MPCA gives permits for up to 5 years. With a permit a facility must keep up with MPCA regulations, soon the facility would not be meeting those requirements. Luckily, the state gives a 5 year grace period.
Fineran said 2022 is also a reasonable expectation for the city to have those funds available.
“We understand what needs to be done in 2022 so we’re taking all those things into consideration,” Peterson said.
Council members expressed concern about the maintenance compared to what really needs to be done.
“My question is that this isn’t something we’re not just putting a bandaid on,” said council member Deborah Peterson.
Fineran answered by saying if their target year is 2022, they need to get the ball rolling now. Fineran said the most important thing is to maintain treatment.
“We’re going to get out there and make sure we have the right scope of projects,” Seth Peterson said. “These types of projects are ones that set us up well in the future.”
Fineran said that once the preliminary design starts they will know exactly which parts of those structures will receive maintenance.
The council voted unanimously to move forward with Bolton and Menk on this project.