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City Moving Ahead With Major Projects

July 14, 2011

Antigo Daily Journal

Antigo Daily Journal

The city of Antigo plans almost three-quarters of a million dollars in upgrades to the city’s water and wastewater plants, funded through higher water and sewer rates.

Common Council members Wednesday agreed to move forward with a series of costly repairs to the plants totaling $727,950.

The funding—through substantial increases in water and sewer rates—will be decided in August. Initial predictions indicate that the bills could rise 30 percent or more.

The resolution, which was approved on a unanimous vote, noted that the systems are at least 30 years old and “are on the verge of failure.” Work will be done in-house under the guidance and assistance of Infrastructure Alternatives, which operates the utilities on a contractual basis.

Engineer Kent Trierweiler of Infrastructure Alternatives reviewed the projects with aldermen in June.

Work at the water plant will total $375,000 and will include replacement of the backwash system.

The four multi-media gravity filters are fouled with scale, according to the report, and there is inadequate backwash flow, decreasing plant efficiency and increasing operating hours.

The plan calls for removing the filter media and backwash piping and installing new media, backwash laterals and header piping for air/water backwash capability, with a new blower and air piping.

The wastewater plant needs $352,950 in repairs, including replacement of the ultra-violet disinfection system and the 32-year-old center drive tank sludge thickener.

Trierweiler said that replacement of the center drive will allow smoother operation with less power consumption and avoid catastrophic failure of the unit.

The entire disinfection system must be replaced, Trierweiler said, because it has reached the end of its usable life and the manufacturer is out of business. The cost to repair and replace failing parts and equipment is excessively expensive since they must all be specially fabricated.

In his report, Trierweiler stressed that if the system is not replaced, it could mean that the plant violates its discharge permit limitations, possibly resulting in legal action and fines.

The effect on utility users will become clear next month when the council moves forward with the higher rates. There are indications that water utility increases of 30 percent or more, and sewer hikes of 13 to 15 percent, are likely.

In June the Finance, Personnel and Legislative Committee voted to move forward with development of the higher rates in conjunction with the Public Service Commission, which will look at the expense to run the utility as well as the rate of return when determining the amount of increase.

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