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Proposed Monett water treatment plant described

Friday, July 29, 2011

(Photo)
Monett Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch, at left, and Dean Willis, engineer for Allgeier, Martin and Associates who designed plans for a proposed water treatment plant, look over drawings of the water system upgrade presently underway. New pipes will provide space for chlorination if the treatment plant has a breakdown. Voters go to the polls next Tuesday to vote on a bond issue to build a new water treatment plant, requiring no rate increases and saving the city money in interest for financing the project. A simple majority is required for passage. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
A public hearing was held on Tuesday in which details relating to Monett's water system upgrade were detailed. Monett voters go to the polls on Tuesday to approve a $12 million bond issue to pay for a new water treatment plant proposed as part of improvements already underway.

The revenue bonds would be paid for by water rates already in place. A "yes" vote would bring no additional cost to water customers.

According to Dean Willis, engineer with Allgeier, Martin and Associates. Monett's two biggest wells, #9 on West County Street and #12 near North Park, produce half the water in the 11-well city system. Both are prone to picking up suspended clay particles. Once the water gets turbid, the city pumps the water to waste.

"When the wells are off-line, it puts the city's ability to provide water at risk," Willis said.

The treatment plant is designed to remove the particles, thus keeping the wells in continuous use. The process, known as flocculation, involves feeding the chemical alum and fine sand into the water. The alum coats the particles and the sand causes it to quickly settle.

Willis and Monett Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch went to West Plains to view an actiflow system very similar to what has been proposed for Monett. The equipment choice used in West Plains settles the particles much faster than using a clarifier, thus using fewer chemicals and costing less to run.

The Monett plant would be located on the farm formerly owned by Harry Rutherford, purchased in 1993 for a treatment plant. The property is located next to well #9 and is about halfway between the North Park well and well #21, located on the Jack Henry and Associates campus, which also has a history of muddiness.

Work began last year on upgrading the water system, thanks to $2.5 million in low interest federal bonds made available to Barry and Lawrence counties from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Much of the pipe for the 20,100-foot loop from Chapell Drive to Eisenhower is already in place.

Building and hooking into the new treatment plant will complete the project. The key to next Tuesday's vote is getting the cost funded through the State Revolving Fund (SRF).

Willis said the SRF will loan the city funds for construction at 2 to 2 1/2 percent interest. The ARRA bonds carry an interest rate of 3 percent.

Allgeier, Martin and Associates conducted a study of the city's water needs in 2008. The study determined the best and least expensive approach for improving the system was to pursue the treatment plant.

"The city is involved with the Tri-State Water Coaltion, which involves treating surface water," Willis said. "That doesn't address the city's current needs. Twenty years from now, the city will still need its own supply without dealing with surface water. We see the city continuing to drill wells, replacing #9 and #12, or building a water treatment plant."

The Monett City Council voted to pursue Allgeier, Martin's recommendation and passed water rate increases to pay for the work. A 40-cent per 1,000 gallon increase went into place in April 2009, followed by another 40-cent increase in 2010 and a 43-cent increase in 2011.

The $1.23 increase will entirely pay for the remaining construction, estimated to cost less than $11.5 million. Willis said despite rises in the cost of materials, bids for similar projects handled by Allgeier, Martin have remained within projections. Construction would be completed by Jan. 1, 2014.

If voters do not approve the bonds, Rauch said the city can still pursue construction by borrowing the money from the Public Utility Alliance. However, interest through the alliance would cost around 5 percent. The $1.23 rate increase will no longer cover the cost, he added.

"Monett's approach is to always have the facilities in place for the community to grow into," Rauch said. "We don't wait till someone beats on the door to ask to come to town. Having the infrastructure in place when opportunity comes is one of Monett's hallmarks. We're just keeping up with tradition."

The last wastewater bond passed by a six-to-one margin. Willis observed wastewater projects are a harder sell, as most water customers appreciate the importance of having water when they want it.

Under the current hot conditions, Rauch estimated the city system was pumping 3.1 million or 3.2 million gallons a day. Historically the city's system has produced more than five million gallons in a single day, and the wastewater plant has the capacity to treat six million gallons a day.

Many steps have been taken by Monett's industries over the years to reduce the amount of water used. Rauch pointed out the city installed an irrigation system at the golf course that uses treated effluent from the wastewater plant. Drinking water is not being used to water grass, he said.

"The Monett City Council's community advisory group put water at the top of the city's priorities," Rauch said. "That's just what we're doing."

The water system upgrade already underway includes additional features. The northeast corner of the city has low water pressure and is being hooked into the high pressure line run out of the water tower by Lowe's.

If all of the money is not needed for the treatment plant, it may be set aside for other work. Rauch said $500,000 left over from the last wastewater plant improvement was set in a separate fund. The money was used last year to upgrade the lift station carrying sewage to the plant from the west end of town.

To qualify for SRF money, public hearings were held on engineering alternatives, the impact on user rates and the environmental impact. Willis discussed different ways to treat the water and how the city has already covered the cost of the project.

The environmental effect of dumping water too muddy to use would be reduced by adding the treatment plant. If the plant broke down, the pipeline could be turned off. The current chlorination approach would be used to treat the water supply.

Willis said the new plant would have no discharge capacity for waste. Some sludge from the plant's alum and blowdown would be left in the handling lagoon, which could be applied to area farm fields just like sludge from the wastewater plant.

"Day in and day out, the city's water supply is okay," Willis said. "If we have a power failure for two hours and the wells suck clay and we have to pump them to waste for a week, it could get scary."

"The city now has enough electricity and capacity at the wastewater plant. Our water is only marginally okay," Rauch added. "This will get us well down the road and ensure we get water to residents and industry. We will not have to ask for usage curtailment."



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