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Granite officials to hold hearing on $2.8 million sewer upgrade

GRANITE FALLS -- Granite Falls City Council members called for a public hearing to consider an estimated $2.8 million in work to correct deficiencies in its sanitary and storm sewer systems.

Council members decided at the meeting Monday to set the hearing for March 21, according to City Manger Bill Lavin. Notices will be sent to landowners who would be assessed for a portion of the work if it is approved.

There are five project areas where work is being recommended to improve the sanitary and storm sewers, according to a recent report by David Berryman, city engineer, Rodeberg and Berryman Engineering, Montevideo.

There is significant inflow and infiltration of storm sewer and ground water into the sanitary lines due to the deterioration of segments of pipe.

The city experienced problems with backed up sewage in basements during heavy rain events last year.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has also ordered the city to develop a plan by July 2011 to eliminate bypasses -- diverting waste from the treatment plant and releasing it as untreated effluent -- and to end all bypasses of the wastewater treatment plant by July 2016.

The infiltration and inflow problems cause excessive amounts of water to reach the plant during the rain events.

Council members could break the sewer project into phases, but decided to call for a hearing on the entire package due to the problems that have been experienced, Lavin said.

Council members also met with Carolyn Drude, Ehlers and Associates, to discuss possible financing for the work. She outlined a proposal that would keep the annual debt service for the project at $46,811 and not to exceed $48,700, based on a 15-year issue with an estimated net interest rate of just over 4 percent.

The council members expressed some interest in revising city assessment policy for storm sewer work. Currently the work is assessed on a formula that takes into account the square footage of a property in the drainage area of an individual line. The council is interested in a simpler, city-wide storm sewer assessment approach, Lavin explained.

Council members also turned their attention to flood protection and approved the purchase of 150 Hesco bags for $74,632. They are a rapid deployment floodwall that can be set in place and mechanically filled. They would be used to protect homes along the Minnesota River on Prentice Street.

The council members also approved placing an order for $45,000 worth of "mud mats.'' They are placed on residential lawns to protect against damage from flood fighting equipment.

The city engineer had placed holds to acquire the floodwall and mats, as the manufacturer reported heavy demand for the products this year.

In other business, council members approved a three-year contract with the Granite Falls Law Enforcement Labor Services bargaining unit. It provides a wage and salary increases of zero in the first year, 2 percent in the second year and 2 percent in the third year.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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