- Ed. note: I previously put questions to Public Services Director Cody Colt posted here February 23, 2021 and November 2, 2020. Last week, I requested an update on the water/sewer upgrades from Dir. Colt, who I found open, informative, and welcoming of the opportunity to inform Yelm Blog readers. The Q & A is as follows:
Yelm Blogger: A previous story in the local newspaper interview with you stated:
To further upgrade its water reclamation facility, the city of Yelm has secured a $23 million loan from the Washington State Department of Ecology to build a new system to reclaim the water, called a membrane reactor (MBR), by the end of the year.
With the current SBR system, the city can handle around 1 million gallons of influent water flushed from toilets a day, with the current usage somewhere between 500,000 to 600,000 gallons. With the MBR system the facility will be able to bring in 2.4 million gallons a day.
My question is this – You and your predecessor have both made presentations telling the council that Public Works needs anywhere between $17m-24m for modernization upgrades and maintenance.
Is borrowing $23.8m for the WRF improvements going to cover everything that was required in the $17m-$24m estimated figures provided to the council?
And if not, what other projects will still be required to be completed in addition to the $23M low-interest loan for the water reclamation facility (WRF)?
+ Director Colt: This is correct, it appears our current estimates place the Liquid stream part of the project around $21 million dollars, this includes contingency.
Yelm Blogger: Is borrowing $23.8m for the WRF improvements going to cover everything that was required in the $17m-$24m estimated figures provided to the council?
+ Director Colt: That should cover every upgrade we have planned for the Liquid Stream. The Solid Stream (Bio Dryer) is being funded through a combination of State Budget and the Sewer Capital Fund.
Yelm Blogger: And if not, what other projects will still be required to be completed in addition to the $23M low-interest loan for the water reclamation facility (WRF)?
+ Director Colt: There should be no other upgrades required outside the low interest loan (Liquid Stream) except for the Solid Stream (Bio Dryer) which was funded in the state budget and through Sewer Capital Funds. These upgrades should allow the city to build out until 2045 without any other upgrades at the plant itself.
Obviously we will continue to upgrade our sewer infrastructure outside of the plant to meet demands as population grows out, this includes piping upgrades, outfall upgrades to name a few. These will be budgeted into our yearly costs and aligned with our revenue as not to provide undue burden on our rate payers.
This is from my interview with Director Colt last February:
Yelm Blogger: Do you have any information on status of the $23M low-interest loan for the water reclamation facility (WRF) the city apparently received, as City Administrator Mr. Graham stated in the Dec. 7, 2020 Study Session?
Dir. Colt: We were on the Draft funding list from Ecology that was sent out in January for the full amount of the 23.8 Million dollar loan. This is a really big step for us and really the last hurdle to getting the WRF funded to be built, interest rate of 1.2% is pretty amazing.
Usually when you make the draft funding list your are guaranteed to get funding, especially when it is a loan vs a grant since they know that will recoup that money.
Yelm Blogger: Will the city council have this on their agenda to formally approve the loan?
Dir. Colt: Council will be the final approval. It is a loan that is based on need. So as we spend money on construction of WRF we Bill it to the loan. We only pay back what we spend, which we estimate to be lower than this amount when all is said and done.
If Council doesn’t approve the construction of the WRF we simply wouldn’t take on the loan.