Dell Rapids Citizens Asked to Remove Sump Pumps from Sewer Lines

SumpPumpThe Dell Rapids City Council is asking the residents of Dell Rapids to remove sump pumps from pumping into the sewer lines.  The issue was raised during the council’s regular meeting on Monday, July 2nd.

City Administrator Justin Weiland told the council that the city has seen a dramatic increase in the pumping rates to the new Waste Water Treatment Facility over the last few weeks after the heavy rains.  Normal daily pumping from the main lift station is usually around 220,000 gallons daily in the summer months.  That number spiked to nearly 700,000 gallons following the five-inch rain towards the end of June.

“The reason that we are getting those high flows is because of infiltration.  We know we have infiltration into the system.  When you got a big rain like that, you know everything’s coming in at once.  That’s coming in because you have cracked sewer lines.  You still have some man holes that have holes in the top of them.  It’s just typical ways for I and I (intake and infiltration).  Now when that rain goes away and that initial influx comes in, but you keep getting infiltration, that you can always identify as being sump pumps,” said Weiland.

The city was able to get away with sump pumps being pumped into the sewer because of the lagoons, and the city had the capacity to deal with that.  However the city is now paying for energy costs associated with treating all of the infiltration from sump pumps at the treatment facility.

The city put a note on the latest water bills that were just sent to the residents asking for sump pumps to stop pumping directly into the sewer system.  Administration will also be working on ways of finding and correcting sump pump violations

“When we’re now paying to treat all that, we got to try to eliminate as much of that as possible at this point,” Weiland noted.

According to city ordinance, depositing sump pumps into the sewer system is illegal.

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Waste Water Treatment Plant in Dell Rapids Nearing Completion

DellRapidsTowerThe new waste-water treatment facility plant in Dell Rapids in nearing final completion.  The Dell Rapids City Council approved the release of 50% of the retainer to KCH Construction they kept on the project during their regular meeting on Monday, June 4th.  The release of half of those retainer funds brings the project one step closer to final completion.  The $5.5 million project started in late 2015.

KCH Construction has been operating the plant over the last few weeks and has been discharging into lagoon four.

“From all we can tell with some of the minimal amount of sampling we’ve had the ability to do up to this point, it’s starting to treat, but it’s not fully there.  Everything in the plant is operating accordingly,” said City Administrator Justin Weiland during the council meeting.

Tweaks and updates are still being made to try to get the microbes working a little better.  A few other items also remain on the project, but they are minimal punch list items and clean-up around the site according to Weiland.

The Dell Rapids City Council is scheduled to tour the new facility prior to their next meeting on June 18th.

The city has also hired a new operator of the facility in Ryan Fods.  Fods will also serve as a part-time public works employee along with operating the new waste-water treatment facility.

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Wastewater and Water Rates on the Rise Again in Dell Rapids

DellRapidsTowerStarting with water usage in February 2018, the wastewater and water rates for Dell Rapids residents will be increasing.  The first reading of ordinances 851 and 852 to raise the wastewater and water rates were approved by the Dell Rapids City Council on Monday, December 4th during the regular meeting.

The proposed increase to the wastewater base rate will be $16.90, up from $16.00.  The per 1,000 gallons used rate will increase from $5.06 to $5.78.

“In 2017, the city implemented an $8.60 surcharge in order to pay the loan on the new wastewater treatment facility.  And going into this, we knew that we wanted to phase in these wastewater treatment costs.  So we did not implement the operation and maintenance rates that were going to be necessary to operate the facility because we won’t have the facility operating until the spring of 2018.  So we knew this was coming.  This is a 9% increase from where the rate currently is at,” said City Administrator Justin Weiland.

The proposed increases to the wastewater rates are expected to raise about $100,000 annually according to Weiland.  He also commented to the council that the city has estimated $100,000 to be the yearly cost of operations and maintenance to the new wastewater treatment facility.

The proposed increase to the water base rate will be $12.00, up from $11.50.  The per 1,000 gallons used rate will increase from $4.52 to $4.64.

“In the budget for 2018, there is included a 3% water rate increase.  There isn’t like the sewer rate that we know we need to increase it for operation and maintenance. The 3% increase is to keep up with inflation and increased costs associated with operating the water across the board,” Weiland said.

Weiland noted that this increase in water rates is also to reflect to the Department of Environment & Natrual Resources (DENR) that the city is increasing their rates on an annual basis.  He said that DENR recommends a yearly increase to keep up with the costs and to keep rates where the DENR sees they need to be as an average across the state.  Weilend mentioned that the increased rates could also put the city in better position for grant funding for the Southeast Infrastructure project.  The city plans on applying for several million dollars in funding for that project in January.


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Next Phase of Dell Rapids Waste Water Rate Increase is Coming

DellRapidsTowerThe next phase of increasing the waste water rates for residents of Dell Rapids took a step closer to being implemented.  During the Dell Rapids City Council regular meeting on Monday, December 5th, the council approved the first reading of two new ordinances.

Ordinance 842 will be adding a waste water surcharge of $8.60 to residents’ bills.  However, Ordinance 843 will be a decrease in the base amount of waste water.  Currently the base amount is $18.34.  The ordinance will be lowering that base amount to $16.00, which will offset some of the $8.60 surcharge.  The per 1,000 gallon rate of $5.06 will remain the same.

City Administrator Justin Weiland said, “The city, at the beginning of 2016, increased our rates knowing that we would be looking at this increase for this waste water treatment facility.  So we wanted the impact of the customers to be rolled in and not have to be a large increase, we could taper it in over the course of a few years.”

Councilman Mark Crisp added, “This is something that we’ve known was coming for a year and a half now.”

Weiland also pointed out during the discussion that the city received grants in a total amount of $3,372,000, which is about 55% of the total cost of $5.5 million for the new waste water treatment facility.  Weiland said that without those grant dollars the residents would have had an increase of almost double what the new surcharge increase will be.

If both ordinances pass the second reading at the next city council meeting, the new rates are slated to begin with the February 2017 cycle and billed in March.

The waste water facility project is being done by the city to come into compliance with ammonia discharge.

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City Council Decides on Engineering Firm for Waste Water Project

DellRapidsTowerAfter a month-long battle, the Dell Rapids City Council finalized the engineer firm for the design of the new waste water treatment facility project during their regular meeting on Monday, August 17th.

Stockwell Engineers was first assigned to the project, however, during the city council meeting on July 20th, the Dell Rapids City Council voted to enter into a contract with DGR due to concerns of lack of experience with SAGR systems by Stockwell Engineers.  Jon Brown from Stockwell Engineers asked the council to reconsider their decision during the council’s meeting on August 1st.

Before discussions began during the latest meeting, City Administrator Justin Weiland said, “My recommendation to the council is to stay with DGR.  It’s in the best interest of the community to hire the firm that has the most qualifications and expertise.  In this specific area of engineering…DGR has the experience doing that.  They have a facility online that is a SAGR system, and they have designed multiple mechanical plants.”

Both Brown and Trent Bruce with DGR then fielded questions from the council members.  They both answered questions on the background, experience, and the team of engineers that would be completing the design for this project.

After both firms finished answering questions, City Councilman Mark Crisp said, “At this point, we started with Stockwell Engineers.  After the conversation that you and I had, Trent, you gave me confidence that I was making the right decision by letting Stockwell Engineers continue on with our waste water treatment facility plan.  I still stand with that, and I feel re-assured that you feel confident that Stockwell can do it.”

Crisp then made the motion to back out of the contract with DGR and enter into a contract with Stockwell Engineers.  Councilman Lee Burggraff seconded the motion.  The roll call vote was split down the middle with Crisp, Burggraff, Mike Geraets, and Paul Miles voting in favor of Stockwell Engineers.  Mike Sterud, Mary Klockman, Gary Haak, and David Sommerfeld voted nay.

Mayor Scott Fiegen broke the tie by voting in favor of staying with DGR, saying, “So based on the decision that the council made before and the contract we’re already in, my vote would be for DGR.”

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