Repairs to waste water plant need $4 million more

Pictured is the Dunkirk Water Pollution Control Facility.

The Dunkirk City Common Council is set to vote on a resolution today amending a capital improvements project to allow for a $4 million increase towards emergency repairs and upgrades to the Waste Water Treatment Plant. The increase would bring the 2017 Amending Bond Resolution estimated total to $14,500,000.

The finance committee discussed the need for the $4 million increase during last week’s meeting, specifically the issues with the water pollution control facility which failed in January. According to reports upgrades are required “to the aeration system and air supply blowers to handle current loadings and proposed future loadings.”

“My understanding is the plant is currently functioning almost at capacity and sometimes even more,” said Mayor Willie Rosas.

Rosas said with Athenex coming in and with the steel plant expanding, the repair and upgrade costs should pay for themselves.

“We anticipate that with these upgrades, we’re going to have revenue,” Rosas said. “The revenue is going to more than make up for the cost.”

In such a scenario, the city would not be raising rates to consumers, the mayor said.

However, city treasurer Mark Woods said that if revenue doesn’t increase, rates will have to be increased in order to help pay off the $14.5 million loan.

“Let’s say nothing changes, everything remains the same,” Woods suggested. “That principal payment would have to increase the sewer rate to everyone at $1.20 per 1,000 gallons of water that is used. The current rate is $4.70; we’d have to increase that to $5.95. So, every thousand gallons of water that was used would be at (a cost of) $5.95.”

According to a report, failure to act on such long-term repairs could result in being out of federal compliance because the facility, as it stands, represents a potential public health danger.

Another benefit of acting now rather than a few months down the line, Woods explained, the city benefits from the zero percent finance loan. To wait would mean having to pay interest rates upwards of three percent.

According to the resolution, the project looks to accomplish the following:

¯ Replacement of various sewer line and storm water pump piping.

¯ Replacement of the influent chamber facilities.

¯ Replacement of various equipment for the aeration system and blowers.

¯ Installation of two new mechanical bar screens, compactor and control package equipment.

¯ Improvements to one concrete tank involving the installation of a new grit removal system.

¯ Improvements to the solids dewatering and sludge stabilization system.

¯ Installation of new pumps.

¯ Replacement of emergency generator.

¯ Installation of a plant-wide Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

¯ Installation of boiler equipment and various concrete improvements.

Along with an expected rise in revenue from new and expanding industries, the city is expecting to take advantage of both solar and wind energy in helping to power both water plants. A solar roof is being contemplated for the water treatment plant pumping station. A wind turbine is being considered for the waste water plant to power the 300 horse power blowers.

The Common Council meets today to vote on the resolution at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council chambers.

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