MOUNT VERNON — County officials reviewed pending water and wastewater issues Thursday in a pair of meetings. In the morning meeting, Knox County Assistant Prosecutor Charles McConville joined Water and Wastewater superintendent Ron Simpson in a meeting with the Knox County Board of Commissioners.
Under discussion was the proposed revision of a contract for the village of Centerburg to supply sewer service to the Countryside Manor subdivision. The development is outside the community’s city limits and is therefore the responsibility of the county, which established a contract with Centerburg in the past. The previous contract expired at the end of 2008, but discussions for establishing a new contract stretched out over the following.
McConville said that the new contract Centerburg has proposed asks for a 20-year agreement instead of 10 years. The contract would keep language in place about the village performing inspections and maintenance, while the county would be responsible for major infrastructure. There did not appear, however, to be any language in the contract allowing the county any share of the sewer service assessment to cover infrastructure.
“We’ll have to get something to pay for potential infrastructure repairs,” Simpson said. Commissioner Allen Stockberger said that as he recalled from the previous arrangement, Centerburg kept the full assessment and the county then billed the village for an agreed-upon percentage to be reimbursed. McConville said that such verbiage was not in the current contract draft.
“It looks like we’re not finished with this, then,” Stockberger said, and the contract was tabled.
Simpson proposed that the county tap fees for water and wastewater be raised to reflect current competitive rates and current costs. He said that the current average cost for water taps is $1,444, barely covered by the current fee of $1,500. He also proposed to raise the sewer tap fee from $1,000 to $1,500. Simpson pointed out that if these rates were raised, they would still be lower than the tap fees charged by the city of Mount Vernon for service outside the city limits. The last tap rate increase was in 2001. The commissioners agreed to raise the water and wastewater tap fees by $250 each. Effective Feb. 1, the new rates will be water taps, $1,750, and sewer taps, $1,250.
Simpson suggested as a possible future project, provided that funding could be found to help defray the expense, the installation of a Flexnet water meter reading system, which uses radio relays to collect meter data. The system can take hourly readings and detect leaks, doing the work in one day that would take an employee seven to eight days. Stockberger agreed that it was a greener technology than the current system. The half-million dollar price tag may prove prohibitive without grants.
Two projects Simpson is working on for 2010 are a permanent generator for the county’s well field near Howard. The generator would be built on a platform above the flood plain. Simpson estimated the cost of the project at $50,000. The other project was rehabilitation of the underwater sewer line which runs through Apple Valley Lake. To fix the infiltration of water into the line was estimated to take from $70,000 to $100,000.
In the afternoon meeting, Jason Figgins joined Simpson and the commissioners to begin a detailed review of the upgrades proposed last week to the Little Jelloway wastewater treatment plant by ADR & Associates engineering firm. Figgins said that there were pros and cons to going with a partial-mix or full-mix system. A full-mix treatment system provides a cleaner effluent, needing only a single $400,000 filter screen, whereas a partial-mix system would require two. On the other hand, he pointed out, the full-mix system would require a higher energy consumption, as it requires automated mixers.
Figgins also discussed the different drying options, which include a geotube system, where sludge is placed in large bag-like containers to dry outside. A pricier, but more reliable system would be a belt system to squeeze moisture out of the sludge. In either case, the dried, microbe-free finished product can be used for agricultural purposes. Simpson said that perhaps the belt system could be added in the future, though Stockberger said if the plant upgrade is done on a 20-year bond, they should go ahead and incorporate any features that are likely to become necessary or strongly desired. Figgins also recommended consideration of the use of an automated data collection system to help control flow levels in the plant.