A special meeting of the Riggins Urban Renewal Agency was called to order by Chairman and Board Member Robert Crump. Other Board Members present included Anderson, Barnard and McClure. Board Members Harper and Underwood were absent. Guest present included Charlie Amell, Brett Converse from JUB and Brian O’Marrow from Browns Industries.
The purpose of the special meeting was to meet with Brett Converse and Browns Industries officials about the sewer system improvements required to increase the efficiency of the operation and to accommodate development.
PWD Charlie Amell requested that Brett Converse visit with the Council about three specific items: (1) Solids Handling (2) Project Funding (3) Phased development options and recommendations.
Converse reported that the facility study nearing completion on the sewer system indicated that the solids removal and handling was a critical concern. The sludge is a problem in that it cannot be disposed of properly in the winter, and must be held in the system. This build up of sludge makes the operation difficult, makes operation of the plant extremely difficult for treatment plant personnel, and will eventually cause a violation of the EPA permit. There is an immediate need to address the problem, and to implement a method of disposing the solids before the cold weather of winter. He suggested two solutions the Council might consider: (1) Haul the sludge offsite. He reported that this is a very expensive option, in that without a dewatering process, an enormous amount of liquid must be hauled on a continuing basis. (2) Geo-tubes or Mud Bags could be used. These are filtering bags that could be placed in the drying bed area, with the sludge pumped in, and the liquid filtered out. The bags reduce the liquid 15-17%, and then can be redone to reach 89-90% reduction. The drier sludge can then be transported to a certified landfill or disposal site. Converse strongly recommended that the Council address the solids issue immediately. He indicated that he would recommend a moratorium on any additional hookups to the sewer system, if this issue is not addressed. He indicated that any additional volume will compound the problem that now exists. He reported that the two items listed are only stopgap measures to buy time, that the Council should address the solids problem by a system upgrade. He indicated that, at a minimum, the headworks should be upgraded to address the grit and ragging problem, and a filter press, or some other dewatering system installed to reduce the volume of sludge. The facility study estimated the cost of these repairs to be $1.6M. He repeatedly stressed the urgency of the problem, and the need for action.
Converse reported that if Browns is not coming in with major development and lump sum funding for plant expansion, some phasing can be done on upgrades to increase the size to accommodate additional capacity as it becomes necessary. But he reported that phasing, and adding to existing facilities is much more expensive in the long run.
Converse reported that free grants are no longer available for water-sewer improvements. There are loan funds available, and some Block Grants, but the majority of funding must now come from the system users and those who desire to hook on. He recommended that the Council establish use rates and hookup rates to provide the funds necessary for system upgrade and expansion. He indicated that the City’s current monthly use rate of $17 was not sufficient to provide for operation and depreciation of the sewer system, and recommended that the City increase their hookup fees substantially to provide funds for the expansion of existing facilities. He indicated that JUB could help the City establish rate structures if desired.
Mayor Crump reported that the Resort Tax was passed to try to help with the sewer system improvements in an attempt to hold down the monthly use rate. It was estimated that the tax should produce an estimated $500,000 over the ten-year period, which could be used for facility upgrades. However, some bonding or financial loan would be still be required if the Resort Tax is used.
Converse recommended that the Council plan to try the mud bags this winter, as an interim measure, and pursue funding to complete the necessary facility upgrades. He recommended that the Council complete upgrades to the headworks, sludge handling, clarifier and aeration. He reported that it would take approximately 10 months to complete the necessary engineering and bid process for this type of upgrade.
It was agreed that the sewer problem was very serious and must be addressed immediately. Charlie Amell was requested to gather as much information on the mud bags as possible to be presented at the regular City Council meeting scheduled for August 13. The Clerk will contact Rural Development and CEDA to arrange a meeting with the Council about potential funding options.
Converse inquired about the water study, if the City intended to complete it in connection with the sewer study now in progress. Brian O’Marrow indicated that Brown’s Industries declined to provide funding, and would not be signing the URA’s Project Specific OPA submitted for the Water Study. Mayor Crump reported that the Council would discuss the issue at the regular City meeting scheduled for August 13, and would advise JUB of the City’s position after that meeting.
There being no further business, the special meeting was adjourned.
A special meeting of the Riggins URA was held for the purpose of accepting comment on the proposed 2007-2008 budget. Board Members present were Crump, Anderson, Harper, and McClure. Members Underwood and Barnard were absent.
There were no citizens present to offer input or comment on the proposed budget.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.