MONTEVIDEO -- Hoping to take advantage of a hungry construction market, the Montevideo City Council acted Monday to call for bids for a major modification of the city's wastewater treatment plant.
Council members will open bids on the project in February with intentions of seeing the project underway in the spring. Completion is projected in the summer of 2010, according to City Manager Steve Jones.
He said council members are hoping to see very competitive prices for the project due to the lack of construction activity in the current economy.
Nonetheless, the action to move forward on the project came with a collective gulp: The estimated price tag is more than $17 million and will lead to higher wastewater treatment rates for city users.
The project will not greatly expand the capacity of the plant, but it will bring the city into compliance with new and stricter phosphorus regulations in the Minnesota River basin. The greatest share of the project costs are for equipment related to phosphorus removal and a greatly expanded sludge storage system.
The city had looked at a cheaper alternative for developing a reed bed system to hold and treat phosphorus-laden effluent. Residents voiced objections to its proposed location in the city's industrial park.
As a result, the council approved plans for a mechanical and chemical removal system combined with expanded sludge storage. The phosphorus-rich sludge will be land applied. Storage is needed for the winter months, when it cannot be applied on land.
It is among 143 treatment plants in the river basin subject to the stricter phosphorus limitations. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking to reduce phosphorus discharges into the river 25 percent by 2010.
The modifications will allow the city to meet the new requirement and expand treatment capacity for a projected population growth from 5,474 to 5,939.
The city's wastewater treatment plant was built in 1961 and the project will also include upgrades to existing equipment.