FAIRVIEW—The sewer re-use project that Fairview City has been carrying out this year is almost complete, and soon the municipality will begin a series of water improvement projects to update old equipment and accommodate population growth.
As discussed in the March 17 city council meeting, a new pump will be installed at the existing water treatment plant. The underground piping needed for the sewer re-use project will not require the city to purchase any land, said Cameron Thompson, city manager. Instead, they are setting up land easements.
The monetary agreements will permit the city to build and maintain the piping infrastructure required for the project, while allowing the private property owners to continue utilizing their land, including livestock grazing. The city is presently in the process of negotiating the terms of the easements with five or six landowners, Thompson said.
“We are trying to minimize the impact to landowners but at the same time trying to meet the needs of the taxpayers,” he said. The city is taking care to make the easements as close to fence lines as possible. The land affected does not have any water or utilities attached to it, and the construction window required to install the pipes will be minimal.
“Once the pipe is laid, it will have no more impact on the land than a typical irrigation line,” said Justin Jackson, Fairview’s water operator.
To stay in EPA compliance, the city is only permitted to discharge so much water back into Fairview City Creek. Of the two options available, to either chemically treat the water or re-use it, the city is choosing the least expensive route of re-using the water. The pump and piping infrastructure will send the excess water for watering the lawn at the city cemetery.
The state granted Fairview a variation of the federal 2017 Total Phosphorus rule, until it could update their system. “The city has no real choice in the matter. The fines for noncompliance range between $10-25,000 per day,” Jackson explained. This project is simply our cheapest option on the long run and the only one that provides a benefit back in the form of irrigation water.”
The sewer re-use project is being funded through the Community Impact Fund Board (CIB). The state-level funding source is split into two portions including a grant portion and a loan portion. The project estimate was $3.2 million, 65% of which is a grant and 36% is a loan that will be paid back at 0.5% interest over 30 years with existing city funds, Jackson said.
Residents of Fairview may notice that the cost of their sewer service will automatically increase 1% each year for the next five years, a setup approved by the city council last year. The second increase of 1% will be applied to residents’ bills in August.
“Municipalities are always hesitant to raise rates,” Thompson said, but one of the criteria needed to qualify for a CIB grant is that a city stay up-to-date on its rates.
People don’t necessarily want to pay more for sewer service, but they do want to be able to turn on their faucet and know water will be there.
The rate increase was not directly connected to the sewer re-use project, however. “It was a step to account for inflation; move toward smaller, gradual increases; and help seniors in need,” Jackson said.
The city expects to have the sewer re-use project completed by January 2023.
Experiencing a steady 2% to 2.5% growth year over year recently, most of Fairview’s growth is happening outside of city boundaries in unincorporated areas, Thompson said. Some of the growth is occurring within its buffer zone, and new residents there may apply for being annexed into the city to benefit from being on municipal water and sewer utilities.
The water projects are on the docket for the city include:
• The replacement of a water column pipe at one well location.
• Construction of a new water tank to replace the old one installed in 1952.
• Replacing a transmission line from our springs to the water tank (approximately 3 miles of pipe)
Both the water tank and the transmission line are leaking as much as 30% water loss, so the need is great. The city is still in the early stages of determining the scope of the projects.
When they are ready to request bids from engineering firms, they can receive project cost estimates, and then they will apply for additional grant monies.
Fairview is also investigating the feasibility of adding an in-line micro-hydro power generator to the new tank, Jackson said. More research is required, but “the existing water flow from our springs is right on the edge of a justifying such a device.”