The Watertown City Council continues to lay plans for an upgraded wastewater treatment facility and new water tower. At a workshop last Monday, Nov. 9, the council heard an update from engineers on both projects.

Plans and inspection for the wastewater treatment project are complete and it has received all the necessary approvals, Seth Peterson from Bolton and Menk Engineers told the council.

As reported earlier, the reasons for the improvements are to meet more stringent phosphorus limits that the city is being subjected to as an environmental protection measure, also to expand operating capacity by 50 percent. The current facility is operating at near capacity.

The project is estimated to cost between $21 million to $23 million, with the city responsible for financing $14 million to $16 million. That figure is roughly double what the initial cost was projected to be due to supply chain issues and price increases.

The city is receiving funding from two main sources: The Clean Water State Revolving Fund and a $7 million dollar Point Source Implementation Grant. The city is also working to secure funding from the Special Appropriations Grant Program through the state of Minnesota. Mayor Steve Washburn recently presented to a Senate bonding group and a House group is scheduled to visit this week. The city will likely find out sometime in May if it will receive the appropriation funds.

The wastewater treatment facility upgrade must be completed by April 30, 2024 in order to be compliant with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permit. This means that bidding for a contractor for the project needs to be done by March in order to complete the construction within the two-year time frame, according to engineers. The council would like to start bidding in January.

Meanwhile, City Engineer Andrew Budde presented eight potential sites to the council for a new city water tower. The city will likely need to acquire land in order to build it, he said. The total cost is estimated to be between $4.3 million to $5 million. Once the council has narrowed down the sites, it will hold an open house early in the new year to receive input from the public. The council hopes to authorize a final design by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

During the council’s regular meeting, members voted to accept a donation of two flag poles from the American Legion and approved a lighting upgrade. The flag poles will be installed this spring at Community Park to display the American, state and POW/MIA flags in time for Memorial Day. The city will use $1,700 from its operating budget to replace the existing lights and install one additional light to illuminate all three flags.

In other business, the council denied a claim from a resident of 401 Angel Ave. SW for a utility bill adjustment due to accrued late fees. The resident did not contact the city to set up her utility account when she purchased the property in July and did not attend the meeting.

The final topic on the agenda was the 2020 compensation study adjustments. After reviewing the study, staff recommended that three city employees in grade nine of the pay scale be moved one additional step up based on their experience. The total budget impact would be $3,785. The council noted that the purpose of the study is to recognize staff for performance and tenure and voted to approve the compensation study adjustments.

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