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Rushford moves Highway 43 project forward


By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, May 31st, 2013
Posted in Rushford Business Announcements

Completing yet another step of the massive project, the city of Rushford, Minn. held a public hearing Monday, May 28 in reference to improvements to the sanitary sewer infrastructure. The draft facility plan impacts “the entire city of Rushford,” specifically properties located on Mill Street from the north end Rush Creek bridge to the south end Root River bridge.

Josh DeFrang of Otomo Engineering Services addressed the council and stated that the engineering report, design process, and calculations for methods are all spelled out in the plan. Design requirements include future design flows and recommendations. The plan must still be presented to the Pollution Control Agency (PCA). Finance and funding options are also noted and the plan will be submitted to the Public Facilities Authority (PFA) for eligibility of a low interest loan.

There are four or five lines that need replacement, according to DeFrang. The lines were televised for condition after the 2007 flood, but the lines can’t be televised again. “They’re in bad shape. We can’t even get in there. The camera just kept tipping over,” he added. City Administrator Steve Sarvi noted that the city intends to televise lines every five years or so as part of the comprehensive plan and to keep an eye out for potential issues.

The area along Highway 43/Mill Street will be dug down approximately eight feet, the mains replaced, and the trench then filled with gravel and qualified fill. The current clay pipes are undersized and allowing inflow and infiltration, which in turn affects the waste water treatment facility. “There are spots that are leaking like a sieve,” noted Sarvi. “This will dramatically reduce the flow into the treatment facility.” The new mains will be an eight inch plastic pipe and the design flow will be 350 gallons per minute.

DeFrang also noted that they’ll be pushing for two crews to complete the work, but that it will depend on the contractor selected. A bidder’s qualification process will weed out any unqualified contractors.

Sarvi made a point of noting that sewer rates will not be raised to cover the cost of the project. In addition, utility coordination with telephone and electrical lines will be dealt with so utility companies can make adjustments or repairs during the project while the ground is open.

The council approval only moves forward the plan. They are not legally committed to do the project.

The council has also approved a recommendation of the Rushford Municipal Electric Commission regarding the implementation of the Power Cost Adjustment feature of the electric rate schedule. The feature will allow the city to recoup increased wholesale power rate costs that cover May 1, 2013 through April 30, 2014.Tri-County/Dairyland Power Cooperative wholesale rates to the city were increased five percent effective May 1. The city felt it was not appropriate to conduct a $3,000-6,000 rate study and increase and has instead opted to pass the increase along directly to the customer. Only the difference between the old and the new wholesale rate, in kilowatts used, will be passed along and on a month by month basis.

“Rushford Municipal Electric Commission is just saying, let’s not be harmed by the increase and go backwards,” noted Sarvi.

“It’s hard to get your mind around,” noted Councilor Mark Honsey. “I just want people to understand that we’re not raising rates wily-nily. It’s just costing us more.”

According to City Clerk Kathy Zacher, the increase will appear as a line item on bills. June, July, and August are peak months, and the city will try to encourage residents to save on their consumption. “Whatever people can do to help,” added Councilor Vern Bunke.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, June 10, at 6:30pm, at City Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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