Mabton council considers wastewater treatment facility costs


Civil engineer David VanCleve (right) explains wastewater treatment facility improvements with the Mabton City Council.

MABTON - The city of Mabton is on the verge of committing to a project that will have significant ramifications for both its budget and its residents, but before a decision can be made on updating their wastewater treatment facility, the Mabton City Council got an overview of the options and costs that lay before them.

David VanCleve, a civil engineer from Gray & Osborne, Inc., discussed improvement plans with the Mabton City Council last night (Tuesday) and incorporated finance estimates and potential grants or loans available to assist.

VanCleve explained that the vast majority of the current wastewater treatment facility will require modifications and fixing elements that currently exceed capacity or is functionally obsolete.

Keeping in mind what the needs of Mabton are and will be in the future, VanCleve explained five options available to Mabton, along with their estimated building cost and yearly operation cost.

The first option, activate sludge with drying beds, is what Gray & Osborne are recommending for the city. With the lowest capital cost, at $5,440,000, this project would improve current equipment, abandon the obsolete and leave room for future expansion and improvement.

However, this plan also includes a yearly operation cost of $282,700, which is over $70,000 more than what the city is currently spending for operation costs.

When VanCleve broke down the specific costs, he showed an increase in salaries, stating that Mabton's current facility is understaffed. In three of the five plans the salary costs increased because new staff will be required to adequately run the facility.

The other plans had a range of capital costs and operating costs, but VanCleve explained that some won't be able to handle the treatment requirements and some are simply too expensive.

One plan, the membrane bioreactor, produces the highest quality effluent but has high capital costs at $7,174,500, and the highest annual operations cost at $316,700. It is also the most complex to operate.

The easiest to operate is the recirculating gravel filter plan with tanks installed at every Mabton residence. Its annual operation cost is just $188,000 and saves more than $30,000 in salary costs, but it's capital cost exceeds $10 million and is hard to expand. But VanCleve explained that the biggest drawback to this method is that it may not meet the ammonia limit in winter.

Whatever plan the city settles on, the biggest question is where will they find the funding?

VanCleve provided the council with various loan and grant options available to them.

The Public Works Trust Fund provides a loan with no match required. The city of Mabton qualifies for the loan, which will sit at .5% interest with a 30-year term. The city can apply for this loan in April 2012.

The Community Development Block Grant offers $1 million, but this is another grant the city cannot apply for until early 2012.

The Revolving Loan Fund/Centennial Grant can be applied for later this year.

This grant stipulates a 1.7 percent interest rate for 20 years as long as sewer rates are 2 to 3 percent of Mabton's median Household income.

If sewer rates are greater than the median household income, interest is set at .9 percent for 20 years.

VanCleve also revealed that the loan allows for the potential of having 50 percent of the principal interest forgiven if the sewer rates in Mabton are greater than 2 percent. This decision is not guaranteed, VanCleve emphasized.

According to VanCleve's timeline for this project, the city will want to have their planning complete and get the Department of Ecology's approval by this May.

Stage 3 of the project, the construction, is slated to begin in 2014.


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