Green River City Council Discusses Plans for Wastewater Treatment Plant

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GREEN RIVER– Back in 2014, the City of Green River began studying and planning for the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Facility Replacement Facility project, and started seeking funds in 2015.

Now, the Green River Public Works Department recently submitted an application to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan program (CWSRF) for a $27.6 million loan for the construction phase of the WWTP facility replacement project.

The loan application will be reviewed at the December 5 State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) meeting.

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The Green River City Council hosted a public hearing at Tuesday night’s meeting, in which the details of the project were outlined.

Mark Westenskow, Public Works Director, said the current plant will not be able to meet DEQ requirement, which will be required in 2021, which is the next permit renewal deadline.

More specifically, the current plant will not be able to remove nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), which according to Westenskow will likely be required in 2021.

The City has a couple of options for the future of the plant, which Westenskow explained to the Council.

First, the Council could vote to modify the existing plant, which would cost about $18 million and extend the life of the plant by 10 to 15 years.

Second, the Council could vote to replace the existing plant, which would cost about $30 million and give the plant over 40 years of life.

Westenskow recommended the Council approve the replacement of the plant.

If the CWSRF Loan is approved, the City would be able to go out to bid for the construction of the project in 2020. If the funding is not obtained, the City will continue to look for other funding options. Options include:

  • Mineral Royalties Grant (Very competitive)
  • 6th Penny
  • Bonds
  • Capital Leases

Rates

What does all this mean for the residents of Green River and the rates they will pay for sewer services? Well, average rates will increase over time.

The EPA is implementing a variance in smaller communities that would state the community must make waste water treatment plant improvements that are “affordable”. If the community’s overall sewer rate is less than one percent of the annual median household income, then by EPA standards, that is affordable.

The average household income in Green River is $73,255, which would put the sewer rate at $61 a month per household. However, in 2017, the City of Green River adopted a consumption rate, in which every household pays a slightly different amount for sewer, depending on their usage.

Westenskow said residents can expect to see about an $8 increase on their bills. If the City is able to get a quarter of the project done with non-loan funds, the rates will be less than if the project is completely funded by loans. This is because the rates will have to pay off the loan interest.

Westenskow explained that the WWTP is an enterprise fund, which means it operates like a business. The revenue, which is made up of rates, must be greater than the expenses.

Appointments

In other business, several appointments were made Tuesday night to various city boards. The appointments include

  • Appointment of Andy Hooten to the Joint Powers Telecommunication Board for a three-year term.
  • Appointment of AshLeigh Aden to the Green River Arts Council for a two-year term.
  • Reappointment of Lynn Birch to the Green River Arts Council for a two-year term.
  • Appointment of William Howard Hart to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for a three-year term.