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Kandiyohi intends to partner with Green Lake sewer, water

SPICER -- The promise of $2 million in federal stimulus money and a plan to have service within a year has prompted the city of Kandiyohi to turn to the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District as a new partner.

The town of 555 intends to abandon its 60-year-old mechanical sewer system and instead send its sewage through 13 miles of new pipeline to the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District treatment plant near Spicer.

During a special meeting Thursday, the district board unanimously agreed to bring Kandiyohi into the district.

Barring any snags, the project will proceed and construction could begin by the first of August.

"Everything is moving ahead with the intention that it will happen," said Gary Danielson, Kandiyohi County public works director.

The estimated $4 million project was $1 million to $2 million cheaper than hooking up with Willmar's wastewater system, said Mayor Craig Aurand.

It was also cheaper than building a new system in town, estimated at nearly $8 million.

The Kandiyohi City Council had considered all those options before deciding to go with the sewer and water district, Aurand said.

"We're delighted to see them come our way," said Denny Baker, Spicer mayor and chairman of the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District board.

"It's a good benefit for them and it's a good benefit for the district as we look down the road," Baker said.

About three weeks ago the city was notified by the state that its project would be eligible to receive at least $2 million in money from the federal stimulus package.

"Money fell out of the heavens," Aurand said. In the same breath he noted that, "Nothing is for sure until you cash the check."

The grant is expected to cover half of the cost of the project and the rest will come from low-interest loans from the Public Facilities Authority.

The city's current system is more than 60 years old. With a major upgrade that was done in the 1990s, it's working well and meets pollution standards, Aurand said.

But its limited life has had the city looking for options for the future. By working with Bolton & Menk Engineering, the city had ruled out building a new system and had been communicating with Willmar and the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District board for at least a year.

"We found it might be more cost effective to go with (the district) than Willmar," said Aurand. "It's a good fit."

He said the city will get hooked up faster by going with the district, will have to deal only with county right of way and will have representation on the district board, which the city would not have with Willmar.

The new lines from Kandiyohi will go on County Road 8, County Road 26 to Diamond Lake and then on County Road 4 to the east side of Green Lake. From there lines will be laid on County Road 98 to the sewer plant.

Danielson said the 13-mile run will all be new pipe. If they'd tied into existing lines by Green Lake, it would limit Spicer's growth to the south, he said.

Lift stations will be located in the city of Kandiyohi as well as at County Park 3 on Diamond Lake.

Residents who live on Diamond Lake are also contemplating how to deal with their sanitary sewer issues. They may establish a system for maintaining individual septic systems or they may also join the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District.

Because Kandiyohi trunk lines will go by Diamond Lake, the cost for both entities would be lower if both the city and the lake sent their sewage to the district, Danielson said.

The treatment facility has the hydraulic capacity to handle the extra load, but the treatment and storage of bio-solids will have to be addressed to find less expensive options, said Danielson.

The decision to team up with the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District has had a "positive" reaction from city residents, Aurand said. The final "feather" in the plan is that the city of Kandiyohi will no longer be discharging its treated wastewater into Lake Wakanda, which it currently does.

There will be a bit of a sticker shock, however, when new utility bills come out. Currently residents pay $15 a month for sewer services. When the new system is hooked up, the estimated cost per household will be $40 a month, Aurand said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750