Future of city’s wastewater treatment plant discussed

By Patrick Fisher

The future of the New Prague Wastewater Treatment Plant was the topic of a workshop held Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the New Prague City Hall, for members of the New Prague City Council, city staff, area residents, representatives of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Short Elliot Hendrickson (S.E.H.), the city's engineering firm.

Larry Anderson of S.E.H. gave a brief introduction into the topics to be covered. He said those attending the workshop would see information on the city’s population growth, the existing treatment plant capacity, future treatment plant sizing, possible locations, current and future effluent standards, treatment options, and timelines for approving, funding and treating the facility.

According to Anderson, how fast the project would progress depends in part on the MPCA, since any plans would have to be approved by that agency.

As part of his presentation Anderson mentioned how many lots and land were left in the area for development. He said, as of September 1, of the remaining approved single family lots and multi family units there is an estimated total of 357. The remaining undeveloped land within the city limits makes up an estimated 195 units and there are about 485 acres of remaining land within the growth boundary of the 2000 comprehensive plan.

Capacity limits

New Prague's wastewater treatment facility has a permitted capacity of approximately 1.4 million gallons per day (GPD) of which there are 125,000 GPD left. He added that when Associated Milk Producers Inc. closed its New Prague plant, the capacity built into the treatment plant for that plant was made available to the community.

He also noted that an amount of the treatment plant’s capacity is currently reserved for inflow and infiltration (I/I), which is groundwater and rainwater that seeps into the sanitary sewer system.

Councilmember Jim Kratochvil asked if the street work the city has been doing lately has reduced the I/I, since many of the old clay sewer pipes have been replaced by PVC pipes.

While the replacement of sewer pipes has not affected the city’s permitted capacity, staff was hopeful that it has reduced the I/I. In the past residents would have drain tiles that would cause rainwater, basically clean water, to drain into the city’s sanitary sewer system. The city has rerouted that rainwater to discharge into the city’s storm sewer system.

Future growth

Anderson said that in May, as part of the comprehensive planning process, the city council adopted an estimate of future growth for the community. According to the estimate the city expects to have a population of 15,700 by 2030. That population would have an estimated flow of 3.1 million GPD on the wastewater system.

To cover for that future need the city is looking at three options for the plant:

• expansion of the current plant

• build at a new location in a nearby area northwest of the city limits

• build at a new location in a nearby area northeast of the city limits

Doug Parrott of S.E.H. asked Gbolahan Gbadamosi, an engineer with the MPCA, if the receiving stream for the other two locations would be the same as the current one. Gbadamosi said it would, but the effluent limits would be updated.

Mayor Craig S. Sindelar asked about expanding the current plant. Anderson said there is enough room for an expansion, although they may need to fill in a small area of the pond. He added that the pond hasn’t been used for treatments for some time.

Eudale Mathiason of the MPCA said if the pond was abandoned the sludge in it would have to be treated.

Also discussed was the possibility of odors from the plant. If the current plant was expanded an odor control area would be installed. An outdoor scrubbing system would also be added.

Timelines

There was also discussion about a possible timeline for completion of a new or expanded plant. While there were concerns about setting a timeline this early in the process and having residents expect it to be followed, engineers stressed that everything at this time is merely speculation of possible dates and not an exact time schedule. Engineers and city officials expect to have a draft of the plant in by the end of the year, with a public hearing to be held by February and a plan submitted to the MPCA by April.

Anderson and Mathiason said that to be considered for funding grants in 2005, the plan would need to be completed by March 1. Mathiason said that deadline is a high priority since any plans in by March 1 get first priority.

Current vs. new

There were some questions about whether it was better to expand at the current site or build at a new one. Among the discussions was the cost of land in the area and how it has continued to increase.

Dennis Seurer, New Prague Public Works Director, said a positive about the current site is that the work can be done in phases.

My opinion is if we can do it on that site then that’s what we have to do

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