Committee recommends city stay with plan for moving wastewater treatment plant out of Willmar

WILLMAR -- The city should continue to plan to move the wastewater treatment plant out of town, even though two closer sites might shave either $2.26 million or $4.68 million from the $80 million estimated cost, a Willmar City Council committee i...

WILLMAR -- The city should continue to plan to move the wastewater treatment plant out of town, even though two closer sites might shave either $2.26 million or $4.68 million from the $80 million estimated cost, a Willmar City Council committee is recommending.

In making the recommendation to the full council on Monday, the Public Works/Safety Committee said the estimated saving would have an insignificant effect on sewer rates, and that a closer location would hamper growth of the city.

The savings were calculated by treatment plant consultants Donohue and Associates and were presented to the committee Tuesday evening. After discussing the estimates, the committee voted to recommend staying with the plan for moving the plant out of town.

The savings noted in a comparison of the cost of constructing the waste conveyance system to three sites:

n The proposed location at the city's brush site several miles west of town.


n A site north of state Highway 40 at the present airport (which will become an industrial park after the new airport opens).

n A 60-acre parcel near the intersection of County Road 5 and state Highway 23.

"When we got word about the increased cost at the wastewater treatment plant, there naturally were some concerns and a number of questions raised about whether or not we had explored all of our options,'' said City Administrator Michael Schmit.

"I strongly believe, in working with the consultants through all of the different workshops, that in terms of the actual facility itself I can guarantee you that we explored all alternatives,'' he said.

One idea that kept popping up, however, was the high cost of the waste conveyance system to the proposed site, said Schmit. The consultants estimated the cost at $18.1 million.

"It seemed logical to ask oneself that if that plant were moved closer to town, would we save some money on those conveyance costs,'' he said.

The estimated conveyance cost to the former airport site was $15,887,858, resulting in an estimated saving of $2,266,142. The estimated conveyance cost to the third site was $13,470,000, resulting in a saving of $4,684,000.

The estimates included $1 million to cover the cost of odor control at the sites closer to the city.


Schmit said land surrounding a plant at the closer sites would need to be controlled through zoning or purchase. He agreed that $4 million was a lot of money, but said the effect of the savings on future sewer rates is going to be insignificant.

He said he was not promoting the idea of moving the plant closer to town, but felt it was prudent to explore the possibility.

Committee Chairman Doug Reese said he did not want to thumb his nose at $4 million. "But if it's not going to have a major effect on rates, then let's stay with the plan,'' he said.

Committee member Ron Christianson said a site closer to the city would limit expansion of the city.

Schmit discussed the results of odor surveys of businesses and homeowners surrounding the present waste treatment plant in southeast Willmar. Council member Steve Gardner said odor was the overriding issue for him.

After the meeting, Reese said it was appropriate for the committee to take a look at alternative ways of possibly saving money. He said committee members agreed the savings were not sufficient enough to warrant serious discussion about moving the plant closer to town.

The city is planning to have the new treatment plant built and operating by 2010.

In other business, the committee discussed possible solutions to flooding problems during heavy rainstorms at the intersection of 10th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest, but said more information was needed before a decision could be made.


Also, the committee recommended the council approve the transfer of jurisdiction over state Highway 294 from the state to the city. The .9-mile road serves the campus where the Willmar Regional Treatment Center had been located.

The state is proposing to transfer the road to the city because the state is disposing of property that includes the treatment center and the state will not have a need for the road. The state would provide $150,000 to rebuild the road, according to a proposed resolution approved by the committee.

What To Read Next
Get Local