$750K lift station may lower your sewer bills
by Rick DeClue · News · November 16, 2012

The West Branch City Council last week approved construction of a $750,000 lift station in an effort to improve the capacity of gathering and treating wastewater.
According to City Administrator Matt Muckler, these improvements are directed at several goals:

• meeting state DNR (Department of Natural Resources) compliance requirements;

• addressing public health and environmental issues;

• positioning West Branch for future growth;

• treating the city’s waste as cost effectively as possible, which will be reflected in lower sewer bills.

Plans and specifications prepared by Veenstra and Kimm, the city engineer, will be made available for contractor bids prior to the council’s Dec. 17 meeting.

According to Muckler, the city is being proactive in its effort to meet DNR requirements. He said there is a risk in reaching a point where the DNR is dictating the improvements because the DNR can be less focused on costs. This was confirmed by a recent visit to the town of Walker, he said, where a less proactive approach resulted in higher costs.

In addition to the lift station, the city is addressing “Influx and Infiltration” — rain water leaking into wastewater pipes — in its current infrastructure to ensure only wastewater reaches the treatment facility.

This phase is expected to bring the total bond issue to $1.3 million to cover the lift station and the I&I work.

The final phase will be improvements to the wastewater treatment facility itself. The city continues to review the most recent technology to keep costs down, especially in terms of future maintenance, Muckler said. For example the Biodome test unit approved at the council’s Sep. 17 meeting has been installed. It will be monitored throughout the winter when ammonia levels typically exceed maximum levels.

Muckler said the work is expected to be completed within a year if council votes, financing arrangements and bidding and construction go according to plan.

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