The City of Clarinda is raising rates on residents after strict regulations forced the city to proceed with extensive renovations. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources enforced new regulations on the city despite the city expressing concerns that the repairs would have a significant impact on residents.
Local residents will need to pay $25 – $30 more per month for their sewer bills to renovate the wastewater treatment facility.
The City Council met with Fox Engineering to review the regulations and condition of the plant. Fox Engineering proposed an $11.7 million upgrade to the plant in order to comply with regulations. City officials are now discussing loan options that will allow for the most affordable renovations and sewer repair.
The proposed 30-year loan would increase monthly sewer bills for residents by $25, but the longer loan will result in a higher overall payout.
Bonds must be issued to finance the project. Construction on the plant is expected to take two years to complete and will not begin until 2019. Mayor Gordon Kokenge claims that the increased rates will put a significant burden on many residents. The mayor is questioning how other cities will be able to pay for their bills to ensure wastewater facilities are up to new standards.
He is also questioning why the State of Iowa is not helping foot to bill.
Iowa’s Rural Water Association has come out against the Mayor stating that towns have already implemented the regulations. The regulations, according to the association, came into effect in 2006. The Association claims that Clarinda’s permit has been delayed for five years, which is the reason that the city is dealing with the financial burden now and not in the past.
The wastewater facility was last upgraded in 1996 and was constructed in 1954. The plant has a flow rate of 3.43 million gallons daily. The plant’s hydraulic capacity allows for only 1.78 million gallons to be treated per day.
Low hydraulic capacity is a major issue for the city’s plant, which has had 116 days between 2010 and 2016 where bypass was recorded. Bypass results in more flow going into the wastewater facility than the facility can handle. The facility is forced to discharge the untreated water into the stream when bypass occurs.
Iowa is proposing that the plant’s hydraulic capacity be increased to 3.2 million gallons in a 24-hour period. The plant’s hydraulic capacity is just one of many issues cited in the plant’s inspection. The inspectors also cited age and permit compliance as a major issue.
The plant has several pieces of equipment that are past their lifespan, causing them to be less efficient. Natural deterioration is also a concern, as the plant is reaching 60+ years since it has been constructed. Aging facilities have caused maintenance costs to go up annually. Inspectors have stated that the plant has far exceeded its life expectancy.
PeopleService, the company tasked with repairing the wastewater facility, claims that they have come to the point where the plant is unable to be repaired any further.