Archive for Wednesday, January 17, 2007

City undecided on sewer master plan options

Engineering firm to be chosen next month to help guide city council’s decision

January 17, 2007

The Basehor city council wants some reassurance -- reassurance that they are making the best decision for the future of the city.

The council approved, 4-0, at its last meeting, on Jan. 4, to accept the Sanitary Sewer Master Plan from McAfee, Henderson and Strick Engineering and Land Surveying. It included three options the city could take to help resolve the city's sewer plant capacity problem:

  • Expand the existing plant.
  • Construct a new plant.
  • Expand the existing plant and construct a new plant.

City Administrator Carl Slaugh said the city will be making a decision on which option to pursue at a later date.

"The biggest issue still remains -- how do we plan best for the future?" He said.

Slaugh said the current sewage plant was not built in the best place -- on a hill. The location of the plant requires the city to have several costly lift stations, which pump sewage uphill to the plant.

"Ideally we would just abandon that plant, build another in the lowest growth area and we could do away with a lot of our lift stations, but that's just not practical," Slaugh said.

While the council accepted MHS Engineering's plan without endorsing one of the specific options, the plant expansion option was deemed the most cost-effective. It was also the recommendation of Dave Lutgen of MHS, who has been working on the plan since last March, to expand the plant to 2.1 million gallons per day.

Slaugh said the current wastewater plant has a capacity of 560,000 gallons per day and the current demand is 485,000 gallons per day. There are also 2,480 platted lots in 15 subdivisions as well as expected retail development.

Lutgen said the projected 20-year sewage flow is 1,663,695 gallons per day. An expansion that would handle 2.1 million gallons per day would hold the city for at least 20 years and provide some cushion in case the flow exceeded the projection. The current plant was designed to be built out in four phases as the city grows. A 2.1 million gallon expansion would be a complete build-out of the existing plant.

However, Slaugh said specific build-out options will also be discussed at a later date and could be anywhere from 1.1 million gallons to 2.1 million gallons with a price tag of $4 million to $6 million.

Solicitations were recently sent to several engineering firms interested in designing the plant. The requests for qualifications should be returned by the end of this week and city officials hope to consider them at the Feb. 5 city council meeting.

Slaugh said he will most likely propose that the top three firms make presentations at a Feb. 12 work session, with a final decision to be made at the Feb. 19 meeting. The firm chosen will help guide council members on decisions regarding the plant -- such as how much should be spent and how large the project should be.

"I think the first item on the scope of their services is which of the three options we should pursue," Slaugh said. "One reason they (the council) will want this engineering firm to back up the recommendation from McAfee is because McAfee does not specialize in sanitary sewer systems. They want another perspective from a firm with expertise in sanitary sewer plants."

The plant design is anticipated to take nine to 12 months and construction another 12 to 18 months. Slaugh said the city hopes to expedite the process a little bit to have the design and construction complete within two years.

"If we're able to do that, we would still be able to deal with all the growth happening within those two years," he said.

Council members will discuss a recommendation to raise the sanitary sewer rates to help cover the cost of the plant project at tonight's meeting, which begins with a work session at 6, followed by the regular meeting at 7, both at city hall.

Slaugh said a 3 percent raise will be proposed and, if approved by the council, will raise sewer rates from $6.99 to $7.20 per 1,000 gallons of water usage.

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