Construction on Marengo's wastewater treatment plant set to start Nov. 15

MARENGO – Construction will begin by mid-November on Marengo's long-awaited wastewater treatment plant expansion that officials hope will be completed this time without complication.

The City Council earlier this week unanimously entered into two agreements. One officially grants the city a $12 million loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to pay for the project. The other agreement allows Peoria-based Williams Brothers Construction to start work on the project Nov. 15.

The two moves were more of a formality after aldermen accepted Williams Brothers' $10.69 million project bid last month and heard from the IEPA that Marengo would receive the loan.

But it marked a new start for city officials, who halted construction on the project last year because of a buried landfill on site and consequently cut ties with the original project's designer and constructor.

"We definitely recognize that the project is going to get off the ground. We feel very confident about the design," City Administrator Gary Boden said. "We clearly aren't going to build where we can't build."

Earlier this spring, H.R. Green, the new firm tasked with engineering the expansion, unveiled designs that avoided the buried landfill, just north of the existing plant along Route 23 near the Kishwaukee River.

The new plant, under the designs, would match the power of the existing plant, which pumps enough wastewater a day to serve 12,000 residents. The existing plant will be kept idle once the project is completed, but it could be turned back on to give the city additional capacity if Marengo's population grows.

Construction on the project is expected to be completed by January 2015. City officials will tentatively begin repaying the $12 million IEPA loan, which carries a lower interest rate than the original project, by June 2015.

With activity on the project escalating, residents can soon expect their wastewater rates to again increase. The council had temporarily cut rates last year following the project's suspension, after nearly doubling the rates earlier to finance the original IEPA loan.

The council will look to incrementally raise wastewater rates throughout the next two years as construction progresses.

Aldermen will vote next spring to raise wastewater rates for both residential and commercial users $1 per 1,000 gallons consumed a quarter, Boden said. That increase could be effective by May.

Aldermen then would meet in spring 2015 to raise both rates an additional $1 per 1,000 gallons consumed. That increase would bring rates back to the original increase aldermen made before the project was suspended last fall, Boden said.

"We are not trying to take in more money than what is necessary," he said. "We are trying to phase [rate increases] in as the need occurs."

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