With a couple of housing developments in the works, a huge expansion completed earlier this year at Grand View Lodge and rumors of other possible developments, Nisswa again find itself needing a city sewer expansion.
The city’s last wastewater project in 2012 expanded the spray irrigation field.
“It gave us a little breathing room,” said Tom Blomer, the city’s public works director.
The city council on Wednesday, Sept. 18, agreed to add a fourth wastewater treatment pond at the plant off Lower Roy Lake Road, which will nearly double the city’s sewer capacity by next fall. It will be the biggest sewer system expansion since the facility was built in 1991.
The estimated $5.2 million project breaks down to an estimated $4.9 million for design/construction and an estimated $300,000 for property acquisition.
The city has 20 acres of land and plans to buy 10 more acres to be able to treat 75 million gallons of sewage annually by spraying a total area of 77 acres. Currently, the city treats about 45 million gallons of sewage annually over about 41 acres of land.
Regarding various expansion options, Blomer said the city council took the middle ground. If any developments in the talking stage actually come to fruition, the city can convert the spray field a piece at a time to handle more demand, he said.
The next steps include the city putting together a plan and securing land for the expansion by next spring, bidding the project in late winter or early spring, building the expansion when weather permits and putting the expansion online in late fall 2020.
Regarding financing, the city plans to seek Public Finance Authority funding, which offers an extremely low interest rate.
Residents won’t see a sewer rate increase now, but could expect to see an estimated 9.5% rate hike next year, Blomer said. That breaks down to 5.5% for an expanded sewer system and 4% for inflation. That rate hike could be less if connection fees apply.
“The council is interested in protecting current users,” Blomer said. “So we’re looking to increase the new connection fee.”
Under consideration is increasing the fee from $8,500 to $10,000 per new connection.
The expansion project will include repairing and refurbishing 30-year-old equipment, which current system users should help finance, Blomer said.
1991: The city’s wastewater treatment system went online.
2006: The city council considered a wastewater treatment system expansion, but didn’t carry through because of the recession.
2008: The city bought land for future expansion.
The city expanded the irrigation system used to treat wastewater, made minor improvements to the plant and updated its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permit.