Wastewater treatment facility to get upgrades

Plans to upgrade the wastewater treatment facility in Cambridge continue to move forward.

During the Cambridge City Council meeting Monday, July 16, the council approved to move forward in the process by having SEH prepare plans and specifications for the needed improvements for a fee of $986,800. The cost of the work has been budgeted for and is included in the Wastewater Capital Improvement Plan.

Utilities Director Todd Schwab explained the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued a new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit on Oct. 13, 2011. In that new permit, a phosphorus limit was given to the facility and the new limit must be met by May 31, 2015 and could not be met with the current facility. A new facility plan was needed to determine what upgrades would be needed to meet the new limit. The plan was submitted to the MPCA and approved.

“This was something we’ve all known about for a long time and it’s something we have to do,” noted Mayor Marlys Palmer.

Upgrades include the addition of a new oxidation ditch to replace the capacity of the north plant, addition of facilities and equipment for chemical phosphorus removal, converting the existing secondary digester to a primary digester and adding a new sludge storage tank.

SEH anticipates having the plans and specifications ready to go out for bids in the spring of 2013.

The council also approved applying to the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority for a Phosphorus Reduction Grant to help pay for the cost of the wastewater treatment projects.

In other action the council:

• Approved amending the council bylaws that allows a council member to abstain from a vote if a council member determines he or she doesn’t have enough information to vote on a matter. The exception will only be made if the council member has identified the lacking information and made an attempt to have the matter continued so the information can be developed or obtained.

• Directed the Cambridge Planning Commission to revisit the minutes of the March 6 meeting and review the transcript of the official audio recording to correct the official record and change the official minutes.

• Amended the fee schedule to allow the Cambridge Fire Department to fill swimming pools. There will be a $50 charge (prepaid) to fill all pools within Cambridge city limits using a fire hydrant and a $50 per tender load for all pools within their fire service area.

• Heard a request from Fire Chief Sean Okerlund regarding the Cambridge Firefighters Relief Association request to host a musical festival next summer. The profits would be donated from the Relief Association to the fire department to be used toward the purchase of equipment, training and other needed items. The council did voice some concerns about safety, but by consensus directed Okerlund to keep moving forward. Council Member Bob Shogren did not like the idea due to safety and noise concerns and did not give his approval to the idea.