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Engineering firm will study possible Lakeland sewer project cost savings

WILLMAR — The consultant designing the proposed Lakeland Drive interceptor sewer project has been authorized by the Willmar City Council  to study options that could potentially save the city close to $2 million.

The council last week authorized a $27,000 increase in the contract, approved last October, with Bollig Inc. of Willmar to study the possibility of flowing wastewater in the interceptor sewer line by gravity. Gravity flow would eliminate the deficient lift station at the MinnWest Technology Campus and possibly eliminate up to four smaller lift stations along the interceptor route.

A lift station pumps wastewater from one underground pipe to another.

The Lakeland project, estimated by Bollig at $10,276,000, will replace the current interceptor that has reached capacity. Officials say the new line will handle future service area needs.

The improvement includes reconstruction of Lakeland Drive between the MinnWest Technology Campus and Willmar Avenue Southeast and includes replacement of the deficient MinnWest lift station.

But replacing the lift station may not be necessary, engineering firm President Brian Bollig told the council.

Bollig said an investigation determined there may be an opportunity to “gravity extend’’ the interceptor from the YMCA next to Olena Avenue northward toward MinnWest and eliminate installing a new $750,000 lift station.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said Bollig brought the possibility to staff. Stevens said the firm “felt they needed to explore that in greater detail” and there would be additional cost to do so.

Bollig said his firm will study the possibility of eliminating up to four smaller lift stations.

“We’ll look at those, evaluate it and look at the costs and determine the feasibility and bring that back to staff for consideration,’’ Bollig said.

Mayor Frank Yanish asked Bollig about the potential savings. Besides the MinnWest lift station, Bollig estimated the savings at $250,000 to $275,000 for each of the four smaller lift stations, for a total savings of closer to $2 million.

Yanish asked Bollig if the city would still be required to pay for the additional study even if the smaller lift stations could not be eliminated. Bollig said that is correct.

Bollig said he was was comfortable saying gravity sewer can be extended from MinnWest.

“But eliminating the other lift stations will come down to a cost-benefit analysis and determine whether or not those lift stations could or should be considered,’’ he said.

The additional study was recommended by the council’s Public Works/Safety Committee. Chairman Ron Christianson said there is some savings there, “but it’s going to cost us more money to dig deeper, too. There will be potentially some savings.’’

In related business, the council approved a $52,708 proposal from Donohue and Associates of Willmar for design and construction-related services to replace the Sperryville lift station. Estimated construction cost is $275,000.

Lift station replacement is listed in the 2013 capital improvement program. The lift station was built in the 1950s or earlier and is recommended for replacement because it has several deficiencies, including safety concerns and a lack of parts for outdated pumps and equipment, and it does not meet electrical code.

In other business, the council voted to have the Planning Commission review a proposal from the heirs of Jim Rule to give the former Rule Tire property to the city. The City Charter requires the Planning Commission to review such offers.

The downtown tire shop has been closed for a number of years and is in deteriorating condition. City staff determined the building has a minor amount of asbestos ceiling tile. Fuel tanks have been removed and no other environmental hazards have been identified. The family has agreed to pay delinquent property taxes.

The Willmar office of Habitat for Humanity of West Central Minnesota has indicated an interest in a portion of the property. The committee last week discussed options for obtaining the property, including the city receiving it all and leasing a portion to Habitat.

Another option might be that the family gifts a portion of the property to the city and to Habitat. City staff will follow up with the city attorney regarding options for resale, gifting or leasing if the city acquires the property.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150