GR Public Works Provides Update on Wastewater Project, Rate Increases

GR Public Works Provides Update on Wastewater Project, Rate Increases

GREEN RIVER — Green River Public Works Director Mark Westenskow gave an overview of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Replacement Facility project during Tuesday night’s Green River City Council meeting, and explained what rate increases will look like in the coming years.

Westenskow said that due to the cost of the replacement facility, as well as inflation factors, rate increases are necessary for wastewater.

The city secured $30 million in loans from the State Revolving Fund in 2018, and they submitted for construction permits in late 2019. However, then the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. 

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“That slowed down our review, and it slowed down our response to that review, and things were just basically kind of stupid for that year,” Westenskow said.

When the city went out to bid for the project in 2021, the supply chain had increased costs by about 50 percent, he said. Westenskow said they had to reject those bids as the overall cost estimate for the project went from $30 million to $45 million.

Now, the project is currently in the early equipment selection phase. Bidding is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of this year with construction taking place from 2023 to 2025.

To help secure enough funds for the project, the Green River City Council authorized the Public Works Department Tuesday night to submit a request to the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) for a $7.5 million increase to the city’s current Clean Water SRF (CWSRF) Loan.

The city is also applying for a $7.5 million ARPA grant, which is also through SLIB.

“We kind of envision the loan increase and the ARPA grant request as companions. We are wanting those to hit the SLIB meeting at the same time so we can get a single answer from them,” Westenskow said.

Rate Increases

Rate increases have been outlined in its Cost of Service and Rate Design Study, which was completed in 2017 and recently updated. The rate increases recommended in that study have been applied for six straight years, and will need to continue to be adopted on an annual basis until the debt service for the loan is realized. Westenskow said they look at the increases each year, and will also be considering inflation factors.

“We’re in a really good position from a debt service perspective as far as what we have to pay back,” Westenskow said.

The graph below shows projected rate increases for the next few fiscal years based on the average resident’s total cubic feet of sewer.

“You see how that varies based on your individual household usage, so some are going to be paying more than others,” Westenskow said.