Archive for Wednesday, August 22, 2007

City poised for next step in sewer plant

August 22, 2007

The Basehor City Council and city staff have several decisions to make regarding the future of the Basehor wastewater treatment plant within the next couple of months.

Jeff Keller of Burns and McDonnell, the firm chosen to design the wastewater treatment plant expansion, presented the facility evaluation and improvements plan to council members Monday night.

The plan was put on hold last month due to the state's anti-degradation policy, which requires all new or improved wastewater treatment facilities to provide higher quality water treatment. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment can impose increasingly stringent tiers of water treatment, which gradually reduce the total amount of Nitrogen and Phosphorus in the water, on cities. The level of stringency is determined by the city's economy. Because different levels of water treatment would affect cost and equipment, city officials had to wait to hear back from the state to see which level the city of Basehor would be asked to uphold before proceeding with the plan.

Keller gave council members favorable news in that the city will be required to have 8 milligrams per liter of total Nitrogen and 1.5 milligrams per liter of total Phosphorus. This information from the state is preliminary, Keller said, and the next step is to apply for a new permit to make it permanent.

"This is the least stringent of the tiers," Keller said. "Now we must lock it in by applying for a new permit."

Keller went on to explain the logistics of the plan, including recommended plant improvements, projection of cost and financing.

Improvements to the 163rd Street lift station were divided into two categories including things that need to be completed between 2008 and 2011 and things that need to be completed between 2011 and 2020.

Those in the early years include adding a trash basket and vault to protect lift station pumps. With the city of Basehor growing, it is inevitable that large pieces of debris from construction sites will get into the wastewater system. The debris then gets lodged in the pumps, breaking them. Keller described the trash basket and vault as a metal barrier with large holes that allow water to flow through, but block large pieces of debris.

"It's a small investment to protect a very expensive piece of equipment," Keller said.

Other pieces of equipment include a chemical feed, which controls odor and corrosion, variable frequency drives, which give pumps the ability to run at various speeds easing stress on pipelines and flow monitors, which allow operators to know how much water is coming into the plant. A third pump would also be added.

"Right now there are two pumps in that pump station and it was designed for three," Keller said. "At certain times, you need two and if one were to fail, you wouldn't have enough pumps."

Improvements added after 2011 are all in preparation for a larger population and in turn larger flows. Three bigger pumps will be added along with a new generator and a new force main. Most improvements need to be made immediately and the estimated cost is about $150,000, Keller said, while the cost of improvements after 2011 will be nearly a million at $970,000.

Upgrades will be made to several parts of the main plant as well. The first building the wastewater flows into, the headworks, which removes smaller pieces of inorganic material, needs to either be rebuilt or rehabilitated, Keller said. Although the concrete structure itself is in good condition, gases have corroded some of the interior equipment. An entirely new building would cost around $680,000, while replacing damaged equipment or rehabilitating the building would be about $380,000, Keller said.

Two options also were given for the treatment plant basin or biological treatment.

"This is the biggest investment that has to happen," Keller said about biological treatment. "It requires the largest structures and probably the most expensive hardware."

The city either can choose to reuse and expand the existing concrete basin, then add a duplicate basin, or abandon the old basin and build two new basins. Keller said the first option would use fewer materials, but would be more complicated for contractors and therefore slightly more expensive. Reusing the current basin and adding a new one would cost about $2.35 million compared to building two new basins at $2.2 million.

"The benefit of this is if you have a mechanical failure in one of these, the other one runs just fine," Keller said. "Right now you don't have that redundancy."

Replacing the final clarifiers, expanding the UV disinfection, small changes to the solids processing portion of the plant and improvements to the plant's lab are also included in the plan.

Financing the project, Keller said, is dependent upon population growth. While city officials previously thought they must raise sewer rates to pay off the loan for the expansion, the idea of raising connection fees was introduced as another option in the presentation.

"The average is already one of the highest in the area," City Administrator Carl Slaugh said about Basehor sewer rates. "To keep raising them is going to be a challenge. Our connection fees are not so high."

While raising user rates would affect all residents and possibly discourage population growth, upping connection fees $800 from $2,700 to $3,500 would only affect new residential and commercial structures. The larger connection fee will also be rolled into the cost of the structure and will not show up on monthly sewer bills. Slaugh also said even raising the connection fee by $800 would not cause Basehor to have the highest connection fees in the area.

While raising the connection fees rather than user rates seems to be the way to go, council president Terry Thomas said there is still some research that needs to be done.

"In some ways that makes sense because they (new residents and businesses) are the ones who are causing us to have to build the plant," Thomas said about raising the connection fee. "But, if we raise it up another $800, how will that affect growth? I haven't seen that information yet."

The city will finalize the facility plan as soon as the state approves the permit application regarding the anti-degradation policy. The details of the plan will be discussed during a work session and Slaugh along with city superintendent Gene Myracle will make recommendations before the plan is voted on, Slaugh said, most likely within the next two months. The next step will be to submit the facility plan to KDHE then negotiate a design contract.

In other action Monday night, the council:

  • Approved, 5-0, proposed changes to the Basehor Municipal Code to add the position of City Prosecutor.
  • Denied, 3-2, with council members Keith Sifford and Terry Hill in favor, the appointment of John Thompson as city prosecutor.
  • Approved, 5-0, to retain the contract with financial adviser Piper Jaffray.
  • Approved, 5-0, an ordinance amending a traffic article in the code of the city of Basehor.
  • Approved, 5-0, an ordinance amending a public offenses article in the code of the city of Basehor.
  • Approved, 5-0, to extend the temporary occupancy permit 30 days for JED Installation at 2722 N. 155th St.
  • Approved, 5-0, negotiations between the city administrator, the city engineer and the contractor for change order No. 1 at the 147th Street and Parallel Road project.
  • Met in executive session for 25 minutes to discuss real estate and attorney-client privilege.

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