WILLIAMSON – Rick Roberts with E. L. Robinson Engineering discussed proposed Water and Sewer System Upgrade Projects for the City of Williamson at a public meeting held Thursday afternoon.
At the meeting, handouts were distributed outlining the proposed projects. Each provided plans, costs and a tentative timeline for the project.
According to the handout provided by Roberts for the Water System Upgrade Project, Williamson’s water system currently provides service to approximately 1,742 customers in the communities of Williamson, South Williamson, and surrounding areas.
The handout explains that the proposed project, “will address concerns with the water treatment, storage and distribution systems within the City of Williamson. The project consists of the installation of three new treatment plant high facilities, construction of approximately 15,100 feet of 24 inch and smaller diameter water mains, a new booster pump station, two new 1,500,000 gallon water storage water tanks, one new 500,000 gallon water storage tank, one new 300,000 gallon water storage tank, the rehabilitation of an existing 300,000 water storage tank, multiple pressure reducing stations, back-up generators for the treatment plant and booster pump station, one portable back up pump with accessories, telemetry, fire hydrants, valves, 1,750 replacement meters, and other related appurtenances.”
Several benefits of the System Upgrade Project were addressed in the provided handouts. The handout states, “Increasing the high service pumps to 2,500 gpm will reduce the average plant operating time to less than five hours per day.” Currently, the operating time is about 19 hours daily. The project is also supposed to allow higher quality water to be produced and reduce the volume of backwash water, and improve operations especially in the event of a flood. The project also proposes to reduce pollution to the Tug Fork River which serves as the source for the water treatment plant.
Included in the hand out were construction and project costs for the Water System Upgrade Project. The handout explains, “Construction and project costs are estimated to be $9,640,000 and $12,578,000. Funding for the projected is anticipated to consist of a $1,500,000 Small Cities Block Grant, a $1,000,000 USDA-Rural Development Grant and a $10,078,000 USDA- Rural Development loan at 2.5% interest for 38 years.”
Upon completion, the project would result in a decrease in operating and maintenance expenses in the amount of approximately $59,800 per year. Estimated bond payments will be $478,423 per year. No additional revenue is expected from this project and the estimated net annual deficit is approximately $418,623. The handout states that, “to generate the additional $418,623 in annual revenue needed for this project, customer rates will need to be increased by approximately 0.24 cents per thousand gallons.”
The handout provided for the Sewer System Upgrade Project explains that the current wastewater collection and treatment system services approximately 1,132 residential customers, 150 commercial customers, and 40 public authorities in Williamson, South Williamson and surrounding areas.
According to the handout, “The proposed City of Williamson Sewer System Upgrade Project will extend service to approximately nine new customers. The project also includes the upgrade of five existing wastewater pumping stations. The wastewater treatment facility will be modified as follows: a rebuild of the plant belt press, replacement of the roof on the belt press building as well as the lab and office building, structural repairs to the office buildings, the addition of a garage for equipment storage, and replacement of air diffuses, dissolved oxygen sensors and blower control system.
The handout explains that although the current systems do not have any major operational issues, several stations have surpassed their useful life and show signs of potential failure or operational issues in the future. “The wastewater pumping stations show significant deterioration inside the wet well, to the point in which steel reinforcement bar is showing. With the pumping station wet walls showing significant deterioration, left uncorrected catastrophic failure should be expected,” the handout stresses.
Although the facility currently has minimal issues achieving permit compliance the handout states that several items currently in use at the treatment facility have surpassed their useful life and are essential to achieving compliance.
The project also details plans to correct structural deficiencies at the building including new roofs on several buildings and other structural repairs.
The handout states, “Construction and project costs are estimated to be $3,619,000 and $4,437,000. Funding for the project is anticipated to consist of a $1,000,000 USDA- Rural Development Grant and a $3,437,000 USDA- Rural Development loan at 2.5 percent interest for 38 years.
Costs and payments associated with the Water System Upgrade Project are listed in the handout stating, “Completion of the proposed project described herein will result in an increase in short lived asset, operation and maintenance expense of approximately $1,900 per year. Bond payments are estimated at $163,162 per year. Additional revenues anticipated as a result of this project are estimated at $3,000 per year. Accordingly, the estimated net annual revenue deficit as a result of this project is approximately $162,062.”
To generate additional revenues, the project plan states that customer resale rates will need to be increased by about 0.11 cents per thousand gallons.
Potential time lines for both projects estimate construction possible in the spring of 2018 with debt service starting the spring of 2020.
At the regular meeting of the Williamson Utility Board meeting held following the public meeting, Roberts addressed board members stating, “As you mentioned we had a public meeting… We had a good discussion on it. I believe the general consensus was to try to identify and apply for additional grant funding for the project…” Roberts requested to be authorized to proceed with identifying other sources of grant funding for the project. Board members motioned to authorize the request with none opposed.
Williamson Mayor and Utility Board Chairman Robert Carlton requested the office manager to make copies of the handouts for the proposed projects available upon request at the Williamson Water Department.
At the meeting, Carlton also expressed concerns with the proposed project. Carlton stated, “My concern is it would be very difficult to pay for the project right now. We discovered previously that it would be in the $40,000 a month or better monthly debt service that would have to be passed on to the recipients of our water and sewer service…The other problem we have is the current monies that we are paying off don’t pay out until 2024. These projects are often scheduled at times when previous debt service is paid off and you hire a new one and there is no change is rates. It is just a continuation and an upgrade and you continue to get water and sewer service.”
(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)