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Sewer upgrade earns 'Project of the Year'

Pond gets top honors in APWA environmental category
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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The City of Colfax has received recognition for its Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade and Pond No. 3 Liner project. The Project of the Year award comes from the American Public Works Association. It was made in the Environment category for a $2 million to $10 million project by a small agency. Councilwoman Suzanne Roberts accompanied city manager Bruce Kranz and Gabe Armstrong, Colfax community services director, to Sacramento on Friday to accept the award made by the Sacramento chapter of the national organization that deals with public works projects of all types. Roberts, who has served on the council for six years, called it a “perfect” award. “It shows the effort the city has made in recent years. I kind of thought it was taking lemons and turning (them) into lemonade. It was such a nice award for the city,” she said. She said many are responsible for the success of the project. “It’s taken a lot of effort from a lot of people,” she said, including HDR, the company that engineered the Pond 3 liner and plant, as well as city staff, Kranz, and the council. Roberts singled out the contribution made by Steve Harvey, the current mayor, to the project. “Harvey volunteered his knowledge and spent virtually 40 hours a week out there at the plant, for many weeks. He’s still very much involved. He is a maritime engineer, has an engineering background, too. He has been very valuable in understanding the details involved,” Robert said. Kranz said a great deal of work is currently taking place at Pond No. 3. Trees are being taken out so that the pond liner can be installed. “The liner needs to have a completely smooth surface without any rocks or trees because it would bust it all up, puncture the lining,” a very heavy black plastic, Kranz said. Completion is expected by the end of November. Within the next two or three weeks, all the sludge in the pond will be removed, he said, and the solids will be taken to the waste disposal facility in Roseville. “Once that is done, they’ll put a base layer of fine material on the pond, then put the plastic liner down, and put about a one-to-two-foot layer of ‘dirt’ on top of that to hold the liner down,” he said. The material will act as a ballast, otherwise the water from streams underneath that would have normally gone into the pond would lift up the liner. The plastic liner is expected to last 20 years or more. From the pond, the effluent is sent to the wastewater treatment plant, located immediately above the site on Grandview Avenue in rural Colfax. Kranz said the pond was built as part of the original wastewater treatment plant, dating back to the 1970s. “Most wastewater treatment plants do not have the capacity to store 69 million gallons of effluent,” he said. According to Kranz, the cost of the pond liner itself is $3.5 million, and $6.5 million for the total project that includes inflow and infiltration, or I&I, work to replace sewer lines where needed. The Lorang Brothers company, of Colfax, received the sewer line replacement contract and has already begun looking at various locations throughout the city where there is the most pressing need to start the work. Kranz emphasized there will be no additional cost to ratepayers for this work because of the city’s good working relationship with the state Water Quality Control Board and about $3.5 million in outright grants. “The whole package is $6.5 million; $670,000 was an old EPA grant that we had for the pond liner only. Then we got a $l million outright grant from USDA; their money is going to be used for our I&I work. What the Water Board gave us was somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 as an outright free grant, the remainder about $1.3-$1.4 million is all we had to borrow of the $6.5 million. “What they allowed us to do was roll over the old loan of over $9 million into one loan that’s one percent interest. The difference in interest is covering our loan. While ratepayers will see a raise in rates because of normal cost of living increases, it will not be due to the project. “Because of lower interest rates … the cost of the project is not going to raise rates at all,” Kranz said. He also pointed out the assistance the city has received. “The cooperation we got from the regulatory agencies has been magnificent: EPA, State Water Board, USDA. Other communities would have loved to have gotten what we got. Most of time they have to go out and borrow money,” Kranz said. “All of these regulatory agencies realize our ratepayers are paying a significant burden right now, $120 a month.”