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Harmony Council deals with flooding problems

Fri, Jun 13th, 2008
Posted in Government

Recent storms in the area and water problems throughout the town made for a lot of discussion at the Harmony City Council meeting on June 10. City employee Chris Johnson explained what happened with the excess water flowing through the wastewater treatment plant.

According to Johnson, the plant is designed to handle around 194,000 gallons of water a day. Between the morning of Sunday, June 8 and Tuesday night, the plant had gone through 1.7million gallons, or approximately 426,000 gallons a day.

"We're way over design flows," stated Johnson. "That's why we've had so much trouble."

Many houses in Harmony had flooded basements from the heavy rains over the weekend and, some houses, including Johnson's had sewer backup into their homes. The city employees, with the help of the fire department, had to do open discharging. They pumped for seven hours on Sunday to get rid of excess water.

Johnson explained that when a city does open discharge, the MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) gets involved, and he received phone calls from people in Rochester and the Twin Cities. People from Rochester came down to see what was going on.

"It's been a nightmare," said Johnson. "I don't know what we're gonna do."

The water has also caused other problems with the wastewater plant as far as equipment goes, and they have been working hard getting things working right. For some reason, the rain water is getting into the sanitary sewer system, and they need to find out what the problem is so they can fix it.

"The rain has to find the easiest way to go, and it's easier to go into our basements, I guess," said Johnson. "It shouldn't happen. We're providing a service, and the service isn't adequate."

According to Johnson, there is a problem with the lift station on the northwest side of town as it's not keeping up like it should. The council talked about doing smoke tests and televising to see where the problem is so they can do some repairs. Johnson also mentioned that the weather forecast calls for up to four more inches during the next two days.

Several residents attended the meeting asking for dumpsters to be placed in town somewhere so that people affected by the flooding can dispose of their damaged items. City Administrator Jerome Illg said the city has a few options about how to do that. The council decided to go with one dumpster to start out with, and to have it in the community center parking lot for one day. The dumpster would have to be monitored so that people aren't dumping their garbage in it, and would be taken away at the end of the day. From there, the city will decide if more dumpsters are needed.

The dumpster the council decided on is a 30 yard roll-off dumpster. The cost for that is $225, plus a $50 delivery charge. There is also a cost of $65.50 per ton of garbage.

Illg said that he received some clean-up kits from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for people who need them. Some people had heard that Fillmore County had been declared a disaster area, and the FEMA money may be available to cover the cost of the dumpsters. Illg believed that FEMA has to come do an assessment before it is officially declared but he would look into what kind of assistance would be available. If the dumpster costs were not covered, then garbage rates would have to be adjusted accordingly to pay for them.

Community Center and

Alley Updates

The council approved a loan resolution for the Community Center project in the amount of $246,000. This takes the city to the maximum amount they can borrow from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). The city will take the remainder of the project costs from the Electric Fund. Illg said that right now the interest rate is at 4.5 percent. Once the USDA approval is final, bids can go out for the work.

The council changed the dates for completion of the project to August 31 for the west side and October 31 for the east side. The entire project, including the gym and offices needs to be completed by December 1. These dates will be in the contract, and there will be penalties if not completed on time.

The EDA (Economic Development Authority) has been working on plans for the parking lot in the alley behind Main Street. They are planning to put a long strip of diagonal parking down the west side of the alley. Electrical work is going to be done to the alley and the city has been talking about fixing up the street since it must be dug up for the conduit anyway.

Council member Sherry Hines, who is on the EDA, said the size of the parking lot is workable with the adjacent properties. Council member Gerry Shuck suggested the city focus on the Community Center parking lot for now and wait until the EDA gets the parking lot figured out before making any decisions about what work to do there. Hines said they will have more information after the EDA meeting on June 19.

Other Business

• Hines informed the council that Harmony has been nominated for the Capital Community Award by the Federal Home Loan Bank in Des Moines, Iowa. Harmony is currently one of three finalists for the award, which is a $15,000 grant to use for any project. They are in competition with Jackson and St. James. The EDA will be filling out the application.

• Council member Robert Smith said that Music in the Park is ready to go and he has set up a good mix of bands for the summer.

• Mayor David Kingsley appointed Jim Lutes to the Park Board.

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