City lacking in wasterwater capacity

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As Manvel sees a steady increase in residential development its ability to service the wastewater needs become ever more strained. With commercial development on the near horizon, the demand for capacity will only grow more. Despite the current MEDC funded project to provide water and sewer infrastructure down Hwy 6 that will allow for that commercial development, insufficient capacity currently exists to provide wastewater capacity. The reality is that even if a big grocery store wanted to build in the city, as things are today they would be unable to do so due to the lack of wastewater capacity.

The issue has been percolating for some time but came to a head at a recent council workshop when developers of the Lakeland project were able to present the dilemma they face as Section 3 of their project is about to get underway. Current capacity is insufficient to service the new homes. According to the city’s consulting civil engineer, Dan Johnson, current capacity would provide for 78 connections while 130 will be required.

The development agreement in place with Lakeland allows the city to participate in an expansion of capacity if desired with cost being shared on a pro-rata basis. If the city is unable or unwilling to participate in an expansion plan, the MUD servicing the development can proceed on its own to build a plant of sufficient size to satisfy the development’s remaining needs. Revenue collected by the city from water bills would be used to pay for that new or expanded facility but would require no initial capital contribution. MUD 61 expects to require $1.283 million to provide its needs if it were to provide its own plant exclusive of city contribution. That amount of money would be contributed pro-rata to any investment the city may decide to make on increasing its wastewater capacity.

Four options were presented to council for consideration. Option 1 would provide that MUD 61, which services Lakeland, to build a dedicated plant at a regional site to provide 150,000 gallons of capacity per day. This option would allow the development to meet its immediate needs and would require no investment from the city. The city would realize temporarily the reserve capacity of 202 connection that currently is dedicated to Lakeland but would be required to return those connections upon the commencement of Section 5 of the development. The city would bear the responsibility to maintain the new plant. This option would require 6 to 8 months to complete and would allow the development to proceed uninterrupted.

Option 2 would provide additional capacity of 250,000 gallons per day by essentially doubling the capacity of the current city facility. The projection of cost is $824,405 to the city. This option would result in 318 additional connections to the city and would require the city to maintain just one plant. As with Option 1 about 6 to 8 months would be required to complete the expansion. Dan Johnson explained the cons to this option as the city realizing a net gain of just 116 connections for the capital investment, which breaks down to $7000 per connection. Johnson describes Option 2 as not providing “a lot of bang for the buck.”

Option 3 is similar to Option 1 but will provide capacity of 550,000 gallons per day at a regional site and would provide not only for the developments immediate needs but would also provide a larger capacity for the city to make available to new customers. Estimated cost to the city for this option is $2,392,553. Johnson explained that overall capacity from the city among the two plants would be 800,000 gallons per day which would be 1200 additional connections the city could provide new users. Cost per connection in this option would be $2200. Construction time would be slightly longer at just under one year but would still meet the immediate needs of Lakeland. Both treatment plants would require maintenance from the city.

Option 4 would provide 1 million gallons per day capacity at a totally new regional plant. It would allow the city to consider decommissioning its current plant, which Johnson describes as “not in optimal condition.” The cost of this option would be $8,448,240. If the city kept the current plant in operation total capacity would be 1,250,000 gallons per day which would equate to 2700 new connections for future needs. The cost would be about $3300 per connection. Construction time for this option would approximate two years. Johnson told council that development is currently insufficient to warrant that large an expansion and would result in an inefficient plant.

Johnson explained that Options 1 and 3 would be designed to accommodate future expansion while meeting current needs. He suggests maintaining about 1000 extra connections to provide for the expected commercial development along Hwy 6. Johnson also explained that Lakeland should be able to maintain their customary pace of construction of about 8 homes per month without experiencing interruption in services if council acts in a timely manner.

Council favored Option 3 as the most attractive plan. At its next meeting council will hear from financial professionals to explore financing options and city staff will draft an amendment to the MUD 61 Development Agreement that will allow for Section 3 to go into the city’s current plant.

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