By Joshua Keeran
Over a century has passed since city-owned land at 1263 Muzzy Road in Urbana was developed to house the city’s first wastewater treatment facility in 1915. On Wednesday, city officials gathered at the site for a mayoral ceremony officially unveiling the new and improved City of Urbana Water Reclamation Facility (WRF).
In September 2013, Dugan & Meyers Construction, Columbus, broke ground on the Wastewater Facility Improvements Project – a $20 million overhaul of the former Water Pollution Control Facility. The project entailed renovations to the existing wastewater treatment plant and the construction of a new plant next to the old one.
The new WRF now consists of what Wastewater Superintendent Chad Hall called a “north and south train.”
“Basically, the facility has two plants operating that parallel each other,” Hall told the Daily Citizen during construction last year. “At the end of the facility, all the water comes together for one final treatment before going to the Mad River.”
Hall added the project was an important one for two reasons – the age of the infrastructure and the need to increase capacity at the facility.
When WEIDMANN Electrical Technology Inc. came to Urbana and began operating out of the old paper mill in 2012, Hall said, the city’s wastewater treatment plant reached 85 percent capacity, which meant the city needed to look at expanding the facility’s capacity.
Through the expansion and upgrades to the old facility, the new WRF, designed to handle 4.5 million gallons of wastewater, is expected to operate at or around 57 percent capacity and could handle two more companies equivalent to WEIDMANN if needed, Hall said prior to the facility going online.
Along with helping to increase capacity, the project involved the installation of a tertiary filter and UV (ultraviolet) disinfection system, both of which allow the city to discharge a higher quality of water into the Mad River, Hall said.
The project also resulted in the WRF being outfitted with the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) operating system, meaning it’s now a computer-controlled facility featuring remote access.
City Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said the original estimate of the upgrade/expansion of the wastewater treatment facility was slightly below $20.7 million, and the actual cost of the project is not yet known as the final piece of equipment was just recently delivered and installed. Currently, the city is in the process of working with Dugan & Meyers Construction to finalize the invoice.
“When the project is officially closed out, we should be slightly below the total estimated project cost of $20,697,045.57,” Crabill said.
Funding for the project was secured through a 20-year loan from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund.
The loan, Crabill said, includes a 2.57 percent interest rate, which when applied to the estimated total project cost, amounts to $5,902,650.43 in borrowing costs, bringing the total estimated cost of the project with interest to $26,599,696.
To offset the cost of the project, Urbana City Council voted in July 2013 to raise the sewer rate (debt service/capital improvement portion only) by 15 percent on Jan. 1, 2014; 7.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2015; and 8 percent on Jan. 1, 2016.
The first loan payment was made in January with another payment scheduled later this year as the city’s payback involves two payments – estimated at $664,992.40 each – per year for the next 20 years, Crabill said.