Cedaredge's study on a new sewer plant site is heading in two directions following a board of trustees' decision reached on July 18.
The board accepted a proposal by its current engineering firm, JVA, to conduct a month-long reassessment of the town's existing sewer lagoon system located in Hart's Basin.
The reassessment will move forward as JVA continues to evaluate the trustees' favored sewer plant site on land currently occupied by the 11th hole on the Cedaredge Golf Course.
The decision to re-evaluate the current lagoons came one week after the town board received an unsolicited proposal from an outside engineering firm, SEH. The SEH proposal asserted that the work done by JVA "did not include a thorough investigation into the re-use of the existing (Hart's Basin) site." JVA's project engineer who has been working on the project for over two years disputed that assertion.
At the town board's July 18 meeting, JVA project engineer Josh McGibbon made his pitch, and an appeal, to get the reassessment work which SEH had proposed a week earlier. "JVA is the right team to provide this evaluation. We have studied, dwelled, dreamt, philosophized, and studied again the Town's wastewater systems. We have the background knowledge, history and relationships to find the best solution for the Town," JVA stated in its proposal.
JVA proposes to hire a third-party engineering firm and a contractor in the wastewater field to consult in a reassessment of JVA's work done in 2011 that examined the current lagoons for extended use, according to the company's proposal. New options will also be presented, the company said.
Describing JVA's previous work, its proposal states, "The 201 Plan update (in 2011) included several alternatives for complying with the very stringent (limits) for phosphorus and future permit limits. These alternatives included the three options for pumping from the existing site to Surface Creek, two options for upgrading the (lagoons) on the existing site and an alternative to relocate the (lagoons). Based on the opinion of probable cost, JVA recommended relocating the (lagoons) with support from staff and the board wastewater committee.
JVA's bid for its work was $14,000. SEH had bid $21,780 for its proposed reassessment work.
McGibbon said that JVA evaluated the Hart's Basin lagoons and looked at several options in 2011. Following the town board's July 18 meeting, McGibbon outlined for the DCI his reasons for deciding to abandon the Hart's Basin facility at that time two years ago.
• Pending new EPA regulations at the time raised questions about whether the lagoons would ever be able to become compliant with treatment standards.
• The lagoons were, and still are operating at 80 to 90 percent of capacity on a site with insufficient room to expand.
• There was, and still is pressure from government agencies and downstream irrigators to move the town's sewer plant permanently out of the Hart's Basin drainage.
• The town had been operating its sewer plant without a required state health department permit that would not be issued for another two years.
• Two years ago, time was of the essence in moving forward with siting and design studies.
Now, McGibbon told the trustees on July 18, those dynamics of the situation have changed. The town has a newly issued five-year operating permit for its lagoons from the state giving "breathing space" to look at options; the EPA's regulations have been finalized and it is known what sewage treatment standards will be required; and, "new technology" for meeting those standards is being brought to market, and it might be suitable for retrofitting the town's current lagoons.
The public's and, apparently the trustees', first clue that a less expensive sewer plant option might exist came during the town board's July 11 work session. That is when the proposal from SEH was presented. The question why the town and its own engineer hadn't proposed the idea earlier was addressed by Town Administrator Katie Sickles' response to the DCI. In an e-mail she wrote, "Everybody had this revelation about 'time' about the same time. SEH was one of many engineering firms that we communicated with in our network and in due diligence to assure the soundness of the project."
Cedaredge resident Jerry Mendralla told the town trustees on July 18 that the situation "creates confusion in my mind," and in the minds of others. Planning work on the new sewer plant for the last two years has been focused on the single goal of locating it outside of the Hart's Basin drainage. He suggested the town do something to try and explain to people what is happening with the project.
Public Works Director Dave Smith backed up the work that JVA has done saying they have been "laser focused" on finding the most affordable option for the town. The two most affordable options JVA has proposed for a new sewer plant site to date, Smith noted, have been rejected by the town board for political reasons.
The JVA reassessment of the present lagoons will include six elements, according to the company proposal: "meet with staff and contractor to brainstorm options at the existing facility; review the latest flow, loading, and population data to confirm previous assumptions; evaluate a minimum of two additional alternatives including retrofit of existing lagoons, and a new secondary treatment process; evaluate a minimum of three tertiary or polishing treatment steps following secondary treatment options above; prepare opinion of probable cost for each alternative including O&M with assistance from an experienced contractor; prepare site layout drawing of two selected alternatives for further cost evaluation from contractor."
The JVA proposal echoes trustee concerns over the town's inability to afford a wholly new mechanical sewage treatment plant. The JVA proposal states, "While applying for applicable grants and loans, it appears the town may not have the available funds for this project or may cause unwanted rate increases on their customers."
Administrator Sickles told the DCI, "I would like to state emphatically that the current sewer lagoon site has three real options: 1) not suitable to upgrade; 2) can be upgraded for a short period; or, 3) can be upgraded and expanded for a longer period.blog comments powered by Disqus