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Evansville gets $4 million in stimulus money

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GINA R. HEINE
August 4, 2009
— Evansville wastewater rates won't increase as much as planned thanks to $4.08 million in federal stimulus money awarded Monday for the city's wastewater treatment facility upgrades.

About $103 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds were announced for clean water infrastructure projects throughout the state, including $4.08 million for Evansville.


Without the stimulus money, the $7.2 million project in Evansville would have about doubled sewer rates for the average user—50,000 to 60,000 gallons a year, City Administrator Dan Wietecha said. With the federal money, rates would increase about 50 percent, he said.


No rate increases have been approved, and the state Department of Natural Resources has to approve such increases.


City officials haven't received details on the $4.08 million but understand it will be a forgivable loan, Wietecha said.


The Evasville City Council will vote on awarding the bid for the project at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, he said. That vote would have been scheduled regardless of the stimulus announcement, he said, but it obviously makes the decision easier.


"It helps tremendously," he said. "Instead of talking about $20-a-month increases, it's $10 a month."


The council last month amended the budget to enable signing contracts but held off awarding a bid after the bids came in higher than expected.


C.D. Smith Construction of Fond du Lac came in with the lowest bid at $5.79 million. The project was estimated at $4.25 million when it was put out for bids this spring, but since then costs jumped to $7.2 million.


Upgrades are needed to comply with state Department of Natural Resources nitrate standards.


C.D. Smith already is doing preliminary work on the project to be ready should the council give the green light, Wietecha said.


"It shortens up some of the lead time that (allows them) to get into the field sooner," he said.


Work could start in early September, he said.


City Engineer Dave Sauer presented the public works committee with the rate increase at its last meeting, but committee members asked for more information and options, Wietecha said.


The public works committee could make its recommendations at its Tuesday, Aug. 25, meeting. The finance committee and city council could discuss and vote in September, Wietecha said. Rate increases would go into effect Jan. 1.


STIMULUS FUNDING

Other area communities getting a share of $103 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds announced for clean water infrastructure projects throughout the state are:


Sharon
Amount received: $547,000
Details: A $1.5 million project includes a storm water detention pond, conveyance and sewer system. The village will take out a low-interest loan through the Clean Water Fund Program for the other $547,000.

The interest rate on the loan will be 3.6 percent said, Diana Dykstra, Sharon Village Board president.


"This is awesome," Dykstra said. "It certainly prevents us from having to borrow excess funds."


Workers already have dug the oval-shaped storm water detention pond to the north of Stateline Road and east of Salt Box Road, Dykstra said.


The conveyance system will be inlets—underground pipes—that run from Prairie Street directly to the pond, she said.


Fontana
Amount received: $4.34 million
Details: The village will improve its sewer plant. Half of the money will come from federal stimulus money, and half from the clean water revolving loan fund.

"Basically, we've got a 28-year-old plant out there," said Arvid Petersen, village president and treasurer of the Fontana-Walworth Water Pollution Control Commission. "We've been running on fix and replace, and now we need to make some replacements."


The size of the plant's lab will be increased, and a utility building will be built to store trucks and other equipment, which now are kept outdoors.


The overall plant capacity will increase slightly to meet future needs.


Walworth
Amount received: $2.12 million
Details: The village shares a sewage treatment plant with Fontana. The Fontana-Walworth Water Pollution Control Commission oversees the facility.

Fontana "owns" more of the plant than Walworth, and so is responsible for more of its upkeep and repair.


Walworth also will receive money to help upgrade the plant.


Whitewater
Amount received: $5 million
Details: The city will receive $5 million to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant.

Half will come from federal stimulus money and the other half will be from the clean water revolving loan fund.


"Our wastewater treatment plant is almost 30 years old," said Kevin Burnner, city administrator. "We'll be replacing treatment equipment."


Also, an additional disinfection system will be added to improve the water quality of Whitewater Creek.


The engineering studies already have been done, and bids will be going to the city council in early September.



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