City wants state to protect grants for treatment plant project
WILLMAR -- Willmar will be asking a state agency to protect two wastewater treatment grants for the city in 2008. The city won't obtain $3.7 million in grants from the Public Facilities Administration in 2007 because the city's plans for the new ...
WILLMAR -- Willmar will be asking a state agency to protect two wastewater treatment grants for the city in 2008.
The city won't obtain $3.7 million in grants from the Public Facilities Administration in 2007 because the city's plans for the new wastewater treatment plant are not yet certified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
But the city will be expecting the Public Facilities Administration to issue the grants at a later date, according to resolutions approved Tuesday night by the City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee.
The resolutions will be considered Monday by the full council.
The language in the resolutions was worked out with a Public Facilities Administration official specifically for Willmar, said Craig Holmes, program manager for treatment plant project consultants Donohue and Associates.
Holmes said the project is eligible for a $3.2 million grant to reduce total maximum daily load and a $500,000 grant to reduce phosphorus in treated wastewater.
Total maximum daily load refers to the maximum amount of pollutant that a water body can handle while still meeting water quality standards.
"That's what they say we're eligible to receive,'' Holmes told the committee. "The resolutions say hold our place for us.''
In an interview, Holmes said the grants are important.
"We're counting on both state and federal grants to help lower the user cost increases,'' he said. "We've planned all along to get those, and we're going to pursue them diligently until they are in our bank account.''
Meanwhile, Holmes recommended the city press Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, and Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, to seek better funding levels for the Clean Water Legacy and Phosphorus Reduction programs, which fund the grants.
Committee chairman Doug Reese asked if some of the mandates, such as phosphorus reduction, come down from the federal government.
Holmes said the mandates have their basis in federal legislation, but the state administers the program to clean up the Minnesota River. Willmar's effluent enters Hawk Creek to the southwest and eventually the Minnesota River.
City Administrator Michael Schmit said the federal government may mandate it, "but they don't always fund it.''
"That's why I'm asking,'' said Reese.
"That's why we need to keep the pressure on our folks in St. Paul,'' said Holmes.
The state sets limits on maximum daily load, which is a measure of the effluent's resulting pollutant load. "We're trying to lower that by as much as we can, practically,'' he said.
Also, the city will be dealing with new phosphorus limits as part of the state's effort to clean up the Minnesota River and the upper Mississippi River. The current state permit does not have phosphorus limits, he said.
Holmes said the new plant will use microorganisms to consume the phosphorus. The "bugs'' will get big, settle to the bottom and be collected.
"It's biomass and it's plowed into farm fields,'' he explained.
In other business, Holmes said cost estimates are being prepared by Donohue and by Knutson Construction of Minneapolis, which has experience in wastewater plant construction and was construction manager on the Rice Memorial Hospital expansion project.
"We do a construction cost estimate on the entire program to confirm that it's in the budget. If it's over budget, we engineer the solution to get back within budget,'' he said.
The initial construction cost of the treatment plant and conveyance facilities is $70 million, with an additional $10 million for administrative, design and program costs.
Also, Holmes said Donohue is studying the possibility of routing part of the conveyance facilities along state Highway 40 -- rather than straight west along 28th Avenue -- to the new plant site located near County Road 116 west of Willmar. Holmes will make a recommendation on the alternative route at the Jan. 16 committee meeting.