(Lander, Wyo.) – The residents of the City of Lander will indeed be facing increased sewer fees, as the city has been instructed to raise additional funds for upgrades at the wastewater lagoons.
Diane Oress of Dowl HKM, the engineer for the ongoing project, gave the Lander City Council an overview of recent changes before the council voted to approve nearly $5 million in loan applications to the State Loan and Investment Board.
Last year the council received a $1.5 million from SLIB for the first phase of the project, which includes removing biosolids from the sewer ponds and removing the broken aeration system. The loan was granted with 50 percent principal forgiveness, meaning essentially half of the amount was a grant. In order to receive the funds, the city was required to raise sewer rates to pay off the loan.
Now, Oress said, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality will not let the city move forward with implementing phase 1 until funding for phase 2 is in place. The implementation of phase 2, which includes replacing the aeration system and adding a pretreatment system, was decided upon after an intensive ranking system, Oress said.
Phase 2 is estimated to cost $2.86 million. Oress said depending on how much of the loan SLIB might forgive, rates will need to increase monthly by $2.55 up to $5.11.
Then there’s phase 3, which would further improve the system and filters to eliminate high levels of ammonia and e. coli, is to be held off on because DEQ wants the city to address inflow and infiltration into the sewer system. Oress said the city’s sewer system takes on millions more gallons every day than it should, primarily due to groundwater leaking into the system. There are some illegal connections also contributing. She noted that sewer repairs done several years ago along Third Street reduced summer inflows by roughly a million gallons a day.
So, an inflow and infiltration reduction project, planned for next year will cost $2.05 million and include improvements on Second, Fourth and from the hospital to South Third Street. Depending on if that loan is improved and how much, if any, is forgiven, rates would increase anywhere from $1.83 to $3.67 per user per month.
Oress said the phase 2 and infiltration projects could solve the further problems that phase 3 would have addressed.
Last week the city heard the result of a water/sewer rate study, which Robin Griffin said included some of the data presented at this Tuesday’s meeting. No decisions have been made on any possible water/sewer rate changes. (Read more about the study here.)
The council approved 4-0 both of the loan requests. Council President Nancy Pieropan and Councilors Dan Hahn and Cade Maestas were not present.