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Mount Washington deals with sewer plant growth

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By Mallory Bilger

MOUNT WASHINGTON — Although progress might be a bit slower than initially planned, the wheels continue to turn on a multi-million dollar sewer plant construction project to serve Mount Washington.

The state-of-the-art facility will be able to handle a peak flow of up to five times the current plant located on Redbud Drive, according to city engineer Dave Derrick.

The proposed new plant carries a price tag of approximately $15 million and can process up to 3.5 million gallons a day. It will be located on the same land as the current plant.

The project’s preliminary plans have been approved by the state division of water and the city is awaiting approval of the finalized plans. The city is also working with the state to update its 201 facility plan — a master plan for the city’s sewer system.

Derrick said the city can secure financing and advertise for construction bids after both the final plans and facility plan are approved.

“We don’t know how long it’s going to be when we’re working with the state,” Derrick said. “But we think early in 2009 we’ll be able to advertise for bids.”

The city is also awaiting approval from a biologist to ensure the plant’s construction won’t interfere with surrounding plant and animal life.

Mayor Joetta Calhoun said securing financing will undoubtedly be the most challenging portion of the project.

She said the city has limited options because state and federal funds are tight and the economy is poor. But the funds must be idefinited quickly because the city is under a state mandate to have the plant completed by 2010.

“Under the current economic conditions and state and federal government being so pressed for funds, the likelihood of finding a grant to help us is very small,” she said.

Both Derrick and Calhoun are hoping the city will qualify for a Kentucky Division of Water state revolving loan. The funds are competitive and currently carry an 3.25 percent interest rate.

If the city doesn’t qualify for the revolving loan, it might have to approach other government entities or sell revenue bonds to fund the project.

“Most of the other (loans) we’re precluded from receiving because our per capita income is too high,” Calhoun said.

She said no matter how good of an interest rate the city is able to obtain, a percentage of the cost would inevitably be passed on to the customers.

“We have to find out what we’re able to get before we can calculate what that amount will be,” she said.

Regardless of funds, the city is still in dire need of a new treatment plant. Derrick said the current plant operates at capacity.

If the economy were to improve and residential building accelerated before the plant’s completion, the current plant would be under even more stress.

“(The current plant) is stressed a little but it’s continuing to perform very well,” Derrick said.

Right now Derrick said the plant should be completed sometime late 2010 if all goes according to plan.

He expects construction to start in the spring of 2009.

Calhoun said the city is committed to meeting its deadline set by the state.

“If the state approves the final version, we will make our deadline. We won’t make it as quickly as I’d hoped, but we’re hoping to go out in the spring and get started.”