WILLMAR — Stadtwerke Willmar has been working on a new water treatment plant for more than 10 years.
Bids for the approximately $26 million project, which will take about 18 months to complete, will open this week, according to John Harren, general manager of Willmar Municipal Utilities.
Bids for the project will be made at the next municipal commission meeting, with completeness still subject to review by a Stadtwerke Willmar consultant, and construction will begin as soon as the selected contractor’s schedule allows, Harren said.
Members of the Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission, along with city officials and City Council members, toured the site of the new facility on August 8.
Alan Neer, Water Authority Superintendent at Stadtwerke Willmar, pointed out the footprint of the new water treatment plant, which will be built adjacent to the current Northeast Water Treatment Plant. According to Neer, the current facility will remain operational during the construction of the new facility, and then be demolished once the new facility is operational.
Although 75% to 80% of the design for the new water treatment plant was completed about three years ago, the current plant still had enough capacity to meet the city’s needs and still met water quality standards. As a result, construction of the new facility has been put on hold to try and get some grants to fund the project, Harren said.
“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had in securing any type of grant or grant funding for this project is on the city’s wastewater side – their inability to meet the saline discharge or chloride limit. We only qualify for many of these programs if we meet them,” said Harren. “Well, the price of doing that — and that estimate is about three years old, when the city and the utility jointly evaluated our options there — comes to a price of about $100 million.”
Willmar Municipal Utilities could not wait any longer to get grants because capacity at the current facility was exhausted, and instead issued 10-year bonds to fund the project for the new facility, Harren noted.
According to Harren, the design of the new facility will help Willmar Municipal Utilities solve some of the problems they are having with chloride compliance.