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Council says Cokato can’t afford wastewater treatment facility options
Dec. 19, 2016

By Jennifer Von Ohlen
Staff Writer

John Graupman, principal environmental engineer with Bolton & Menk attended a special Cokato council meeting last Monday (prior to the regular council meeting) to present project options concerning Cokato’s wastewater treatment facility (WWTF), which has “maxed out” on its hydraulic capacity.

The council was presented with four project options in order to meet the phosphorus limit. Of those, two were most recommended to the council: construct an extended aeration activated sludge WWTF with the addition of tertiary filters, or to regionalize with Howard Lake, which would be joined with the Annandale-Maple Lake WWTF.

The first option has the highest capital cost of $15.3 million, but Graupman said would ensure the “highest quality of treatment, which will produce effluent that meets all current and future discharge limits required in the city’s [national pollutant discharge elimination system] permit.”

It would also “maximize” the potential for grant eligibility. The plant is estimated to sustain the city for about 40 years, and would account for residential and industrial growth.

The latter alternative has a lower capital cost of potentially $8.5 million; however, Graupman advised the cities be contacted to determine exact cost.

The facility would also require expansion, and additional monthly usage fees would need to be determined.

This option would minimize construction, operational, and maintenance costs, as well as meet current and design period treatment requirements.

The other alternatives were to construct an extended aeration activated sludge WWTF ($13.7 million), or to regionalize with Dassel and construct a facility ($13.07 million).

The council questioned the city’s ability to afford the proposed projects, and City Administrator Annita Smythe asked what would happen if the city decided not to do anything at this time.

Graupman stated that Cokato would then be in violation of the compliance schedule and would be fined by the state. If the city continued to refuse, a greater fine would be issued.

The council asked Smythe to contact Annandale and Maple Lake concerning the unknown cost amounts before they make any decisions.

Council members Forrest “Butch” Amundsen and Paul Boger stated they “do not like” the Annandale-Maple Lake regionalization option, for reasons they did not mention.

The council will further discuss WWTF options at the Monday. Jan. 9 council meeting. A public hearing will take place Feb. 13. The decided facility plan needs to be submitted by March 1, 2017. Construction would begin March 1, 2019.

Fire and ambulance station bonds authorized

During the regular council meeting, Shelly Eldridge of Ehlers and Associates, Inc. presented an overview of the bond sale for the new fire and ambulance station, which passed in the November election.

The sale of $2.9 million general obligation bonds would finance the acquisition, construction, and equipping of the station. It would be issued for 21 years.

The council authorized Ehlers to assist with selling bonds. The council will “consider proposals for and awarding the sale of the bonds” Jan. 9.

Odds and ends

In other news, the council:

• approved plans and specifications for construction of the fire and ambulance station.

• approved ordinance no 2017-01, fee schedule. Smythe and Boger proposed code enforcement fines to range from $75 to $250, depending on the frequency and seriousness of the violation. Fines may be appealed before city council.

• hired ice rink attendants.

• hired Jared Merges as a public works maintenance worker.

• approved an assessor’s contract for 2018-2019. The city will pay the county $11.50 per parcel in 2018, and $12 per parcel in 2019.

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