Options discussed

Council considers courses of action for wastewater treatment plant

The City Council of Webster City discussed the wastewater treatment plant Tuesday night during a work session at city hall.

The council talked about possible courses of action concerning the improvement of the current wastewater treatment facility.

“The last time they met in detail to discuss the plant and the potential for upgrades or expansion or construction of a new site, possibly, was last October,” said Webster City City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez.

“At that time, the council’s direction was to continue to move forward to evaluate the existing plant and come back with information on the capacity of the plant and the future requirements to comply with new regulations or added treatment capacity if needed,” Ortiz-Hernandez said.

Since last October’s meeting, the city has obtained information from local industries to better learn what their future growth would be. The city also evaluated the current plant site. The city met with the Department of Natural Resources last December to outline the steps and processes the city would have to take, depending on what direction they went with the plant’s future.

“Since that time, we’ve reviewed that information,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “Due to some restrictions on being able to expand at the current site, the city is looking at two alternatives.”

According to Ortiz-Hernandez, both alternatives would entail the acquisition of ground for a new site.

“One would entail a combination of new infrastructure while still retaining parts of the existing site. In essence, one would be an entirely new plant,” Ortiz-Hernandez said. “The other option would be a partially new plant while still using some of the newer components of the existing site.”

The city cannot expand infrastructure at the current site due to DNR regulations. Due to a rule in place with the DNR, which wasn’t in place at the time the original plant was constructed, that requires wastewater plants to be 1,000 feet from residential homes. If the city were to expand at the existing site, they would be within that threshold.

The size of the plant’s existing footprint limits the ability it can expand and grow in the future.

“We wouldn’t be building extra ground around the existing site. Either or we’re looking at a separate site away from the existing plant,” he said.

“It appears the city is going to have to consider a new site for either an entirely new plant or a hybrid alternative that includes new components and new infrastructure while still retaining some of the existing features of the current site,” said Ortiz-Hernandez.

With the hybrid option, parts of the existing plant would be retired while other parts would remain in use.

The city has one option in mind for a potential new plant, according to Ortiz-Hernandez. The city is looking at a site that will be far enough away from current development in the community but close enough that it’s still viable and cost effective to be able to build on.The potential site is in the industrial corridor of the city, southwest of town.

“We have a site in mind that we’re going to be working through to better evaluate the site and costs that would be involved in developing a site for a new wastewater plant,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “Obviously the further away we go from the city, the more cost that is involved in terms of infrastructure to get it out there.”

At the end of the meeting, the council’s consensus was to continue to move forward in evaluating the site and the alternatives, follow up with local industries about what their future loadings would be and gather more detailed information about cost estimates and pros and cons to both potential alternatives. The council hopes to have more information back by the end of year.

The original plant at the existing facility was built in 1939. The last time significant improvements concerning capacity were done on the existing facility was in 1999.