Cassville receives $4 million loan

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Administrator: Water, sewer projects will get traction in 2018

The city of Cassville is laying the groundwork to begin projects on its aging water and sewer systems, as it was approved for a $4 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help pay for repairs to the wastewater system.

USDA Representative Bruce Hiveley was at the city’s January council meeting for a question-and-answer session regarding the 35-year,2 percent interest loan.

“The city council approved the terms and conditions of the loan based on a letter to the mayor,” said David Brock, public works director for the city. “So, Bruce was there to make sure the council understood the terms.”

In November, the city hired consulting engineer Allgeier, Martin and Associates, Inc. (AMCE) to oversee future construction of its new sewer and water system.

“We have a general agreement with them for a three-year period to use them on our civil engineering jobs,” said Steve Walensky, city administrator. “Under state statute, we have to select an engineer based on their qualifications. We did a review of a variety of consulting firms and AMCE was a good fit for Cassville.”

According to the agreement, the total cost shall not exceed $8,900.

The company will also provide GPS mapping, field data collection and Geographic Info System (GIS) editing to create a geodatabase for a defined portion of the city’s storm water system.

“The first thing you need to know is what you’ve got,” Walensky said. “We have three types of pipes — fresh and potable water pipes, collection system pipes for sewage and storm water pipes. So AMCE will be doing a separate project where they will come in and use GPS equipment to locate and map out infrastructure, because we don’t have stormwater maps to show what size the pipes are and where they are. We hope to use that to have a better understanding of why we have a backup in some areas, and not in others, then they’ll load that into our database.”

The firm will inventory infrastructure including pipe locations, size, type, depth, and material along Business loop 37 from the southwest city limits, northeast to approximately Fifth Street, then east to just east of Flat Creek. Based on a review of MoDOT roadway plans and Google Earth images, approximately 44 structures exist along that portion of roadway and about nine outfall structures near the creek. The project does not count culverts of miscellaneous roadways and drives that connect to the highway along the route.

Before USDA funds can be disbursed, as part of the loan’s terms, the city first must start work on the project, which means it will have to come up with financing to get the work started.

“We can look at short-term lending institutes and get some money that way,” Walensky said. “Our plan is to solicit a lot of our local banks for that. We can pay ourselves back on the engineering costs out of the USDA loan, but will have to pay upfront. Part of the process to go through the loan is we have to demonstrate to our lenders that we have rates that are sufficient to pay back our loan.”

Brock said he expects to have more information on the next leg of the project in about 90 days, but looks for bidding to start later this year.

“The next thing will be a separate contract with AMCE to put together the specifications of the work to be done,” he said. “They will be preparing all of the construction plans and will set out their scope of work and corresponding fees. I would hope that we are bidding out work in the early fall, or at least year-end.”

Walensky and Brock said defects in the wastewater system are letting stormwater in, and the city has performed a number of investigations over past years to find those defects.

“We’ve done smoke testing where you pump smoke into pipes, flow testing where they measure where stormwater is getting into the systems, etc.,” Brock said. “What we want AMCE to do is pull all that together and prioritize where the repairs need to be made and what method to use to do the repairs. Then they’ll package that into a contract and we’ll bid that out for the actual work to be done.”

The city hopes to use local contractors as much as possible.

“We will probably stage the work so that we don’t have one huge contract, but areas of work so that we don’t have the engineers working for a year before we have something to bid out,” Walensky said. “So, if we break it out into smaller bites they can go out to more [local] contractors in smaller packages.”

Water rates will help repay the USDA loan.

“Water rates are what fund the payment,” Walensky said. “We just did a 4 percent increase this year, and this fall, will probably take a look and see where rates need to be. But we’re staying current with the cost of living, and approaching this in phases.”

The scope of the entire project is so large, and complex, that it can only really be tackled in pieces, say Brock and Walensky, who hope to help residents better understand the mechanics of it.

“Most people don’t understand the difference between a sewer system pipe or a water collection pipe, or realize the different infrastructure pieces a city has and how it works, and it’s underground so you don’t see it,” Walensky said. “As long as the lights come on and the water comes out of the faucet, folks tend to let it go, but there are a lot of moving pieces to a city and how it operates.”

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