Brookings water customers shouldn’t see a price increase in their bills if the city decides to ask for a $10.9 million loan from the USDA for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and city’s sewer system.

The council will discuss the loan Monday at its next meeting.

“When we get closer — and whether it’s that amount or not — the idea is that rates would not go up at all,” said Finance Director and incoming City Manager Janell Howard. “We’re thinking this will allow us to refinance our current debt and extend the time period so the payment isn’t any more than it is now.”

The bulk of city customer water bills goes toward paying off the last loan for plant improvements. That first loan was secured in the early aughts and refinanced in 2012 for $9.88 million, Howard said. The city now owes $4.2 million and, at its current rate of repayment, will pay it off in June 2022.

City councilors have expressed frustration about new and changing laws, forcing the city to continually update the wastewater treatment plant. Currently, it is out of compliance with state law, the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit and city standards.

In addition, parts in the plant and throughout the system are worn out and need replacement. Some pipes are undersized or have been identified as experiencing excessive “infiltration and inflow.” I&I is what occurs when a pipe leaks or, when empty, has cracks in it that allow water from the soil surrounding it to seep in. The additional water must be treated — and that comes with a cost.

What’s needed

Howard said a long-term plan for the facility was finished in 2016, outlining all the work needed to stay in compliance with state and national regulations, accommodate growth in the system and replace worn pieces.

“Projects identified in the capital improvement plan are often underfunded,” Howard said. “This is the case with the wastewater plan.”

If the city applies for the loan, it needs to submit a detailed needs analysis, preliminary engineering and environmental reports, cost estimates and outlines of the city’s sewer fees and budgetary health. The environmental report has already been complete.

Almost half of the loan, $5.08 million, would be spent in town or is related to Borax’s Lone Ranch development, a residential project to be built north of Southwestern Oregon Community College north of Brookings. The largest part of that is a 30-inch sewer main needed between Mill Beach Road to the wastewater treatment plant, at a cost of $1.12 million. Following that is a new pump station near Taylor Creek, at $1.09 million, and a 24-inch sewer line from Rowland Lane to Mill Beach Road.

Other components would include $888,000 to install pipe from Carpenterville Road to Park View Drive, $501,000 for a sewer line from Crissey Circle to Moore Street and $466,000 for the remaining piece of sewer pipes on Oak, Hemlock, Railroad and Wharf streets.

Replacing pipe

The most expensive sewer main replacements needed are estimated to cost $3.3 million and include $970,700 to replace a 10-inch sewer line from Pacific Avenue down U.S. 101 to Mill Beach Road, $439,000 for a smaller line along Oak Street and Pacific Avenue to Pioneer Road, $341,300 for another line along Spruce Street to Woodland Court, and $302,300 for one along Moore Street.

Other projects, ranging in cost from $123,000 to $278,000 include pipe replacement on Collins Street, Pioneer Road, on Pacific Avenue between Old County Road and Mendy Street, Fir Street, Spruce Street near Linden Lane and along Del Norte Lane.

Wastewater plant improvements total $4.87 million and include:

•UV system replacement, $1.394 million,

•Rehabilitate the trickling filter system, $692,000,

•Replace the mechanical bar screen, classifier and degritter, $667,300,

•Rehabilitate the primary clarifier, $327,500,

•Two sets of clarifiers and their scum pumps, $289,000 apiece,

•Equipment for the sludge tanks, $188,640,

•Modify the digester operation liquid level, $155,900,

•Rehabilitate the reaeration system, $148,710,

•Corrosion and coating protections, $145,200,

•Rehabilitate the blower building, $75,700 and,

•Replace the digester burner, $58,500.

•Vac truck, $438,000.

Also, an additional $1.1 million is needed for pump station improvements.

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