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Wastewater treatment plant ready to call for bids

Wastewater treatment plant ready to call for bids Wastewater treatment plant ready to call for bids

There’s no question that Cornell’s wastewater treatment plant has to be replaced, as the existing plant was placed into service in 1960. Since then, the last major upgrade was completed there in 1981.

Typically, upgrades are only meant to last for 20 years.

“It’s not going to last forever,” said Joseph Martirano, project engineer with Cedar Corp.

To finalize plans, a public hearing was held Aug. 20, to address any comments on the facility plan amendment, as Cedar Corp. neared the end of the design element. The average flow the current plant experiences per day, is about 139,000 gallons, with a service population of 1,485.

The plant takes nitrogen and phosphorus, key nutrients for life in general, and removes the pollutants, before depositing the treated waste into the nearby Chippewa River.

“In particular, the DNR is concerned with getting those reduced down to as low a level as possible, so as not to create unwanted growth of algae and other things in the state’s receding waters,” said Martirano. In order to keep their permit to discharge the treated pollutants, the City of Cornell has to bring the plant up to modern standards. Much of the equipment is old and hard to find parts for.

With that in mind, the replacement will be completed in phases, with Phase 1 including a new headworks building, interior piping, sludge transfer, electrical and SCADA upgrades, and installing a sludge storage tank, for an estimated cost of $4.7 million. With the tank, it will reduce hauling and dependency on farmland spreading availability.

“The DNR likes that,” said Martirano. “They want communities to have as much storage as possible, especially nowadays, with weather seeming to be all over the place.”

Phase 2 will see new aeration basins, removing primary clarifiers and the rotating biological contactor (RBC), and constructing a second final clarifier, to be completed in 2026 or later.

The replacements will be paid for by the user rate, which will need to be raised. The impact for customer rates is expected to be $25-$30 per user, on their monthly utility bill. Cedar Corp. is hoping for principal forgiveness from the Clean Water Fund and the city already has received $1 million in grant dollars.

“What is the earliest we are going to be charging the additional?” asked Ashley Carothers, council member.

“We should start bumping the rates now,” said city administrator Dave De-Jongh.

Carothers said she just wanted to make sure the increase is not all at once.

“That way, it ain’t a shock,” agreed council member Floyd Hickethier.

Anticipated construction will start in early November, with a completion date of Phase 1 for September 2021.

(cutline) Kevin Oium, Cedar Corp. project manager, talks Aug. 20, during a public hearing in Cornell, about the replacement of the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Work is expected to begin in November for Phase 1, and be completed in September 2021.Photo by Ginna Young