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Willmar Municipal Utilities invests $2.6M in new wastewater treatment plant project

Heavy equipment is pictured in July near the city of Willmar's new wastewater treatment plant. Willmar Municipal Utilities has invested more then $2.6 million into the $86.2 million plant. "This has been something that we've been working on constantly since the fall of 2006 with different projects," a key utility official said of the plant. Tribune photo

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Municipal Utilities had a net investment of $2.6 million in the city's new $86.2 million wastewater treatment project. A report on the utility's investment was reported to the Municipal Utilities Commission on Monday.

General Manager Bruce Gomm said the utility has contributed a significant amount of work toward the project.

The report was prompted by a question from Commission President Doug Lindblad who asked at the last commission meeting if the utility had finished working on the project, said Jeff Kimpling, manager of electric services.

The utility's electric division has been involved with various steps of project construction, beginning in the fall of 2006 when work began on the large interceptor line that runs from the old plant to the new plant, he said.

City officials have said the project is substantially complete, the city has taken ownership of the facility and has begun treatment operations.

"This has been something that we've been working on constantly since the fall of 2006 with different projects,'' said Kimpling.

That involvement includes work with the interceptor line, forcemain sewer line, the 69-kilovolt transmission line and substation, distribution system, fiber-optic line construction, decommissioning of the old plant, and locating, planning, coordinating and supervision.

The largest cost item was $1,942,900 for reconstructing 3.5 miles of overhead 69-kilovolt line, construction of one-quarter mile of new 69-kilovolt line, both in 2008 and 2009, and construction of a new treatment plant substation, interaction controls and switch in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Kimpling said the 3½-mile power line was rebuilt because a strong wind knocked down three poles on the old line and because pole inspectors found a number of poles were deficient. The poles were replaced because the line needed to be reliable, he said.

Other costs were:

- $279,200 for distribution equipment such as switches, transformers, feeders and two standby generators.

- $121,900 for overhead and underground fiber-optic lines for communication with the city and with utility substations.

- $103,700 for relocating and replacing electric lines and feeder line along the gravity-fed interceptor line, which carries municipal sewage to the new plant.

- $24,600 for two pump stations and protection of the electric system at the southwest substation for the pressurized forcemain line, which carries industrial waste from the Jennie-O Turkey Store plant at Benson Avenue to the Willmar Avenue plant to the treatment plant.

- $13,100 for a smaller transformer and new line into the site of the old waste treatment plant, which will be decommissioned.

Kimpling said the individual costs did not include supervisory labor.

"We've been living this project since the fall of 2006 and it has been continuous ... '' said Kimpling. "It's been a very large drain on our manpower. We're glad to see it come to where it's at right now.''

He said the utility did not have a total budget for all work. The utility did have a budget for the transmission line and substation. The transmission project went over budget, Kimpling said, and the fiber-optic project was close to budget.

He said relocation costs were not budgeted. Some utility lines were relocated out of necessity that the utility did not know about.

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