Improvements needed for wastewater treatment plant in Trenton could cost over $6,000,000

Trenton Water Treatment Plant

City of Trenton officials heard a presentation last night on improvements needed for the wastewater treatment plant.

Trenton is working with the engineering firm Burns and McDonnell to finalize a list of projects for the sewer plant and collection system to meet the settlement agreement with the Department of Natural Resources.

It’s called the “Bypass Elimination Plan,” and has provisions to eliminate sewage bypassing the wastewater plant during rainy weather periods and to implement disinfection requirements by July of 2019. Two representatives of Burns and McDonnell also attended and answered questions.

The two-hour meeting at City Hall included participation by six of eight city council members including the Mayor, City Administrator/Utility Director, City Clerk and five TMU officials. It was decided by the Utility Committee to recommend to the full city council that Burns and McDonnell continue developing three initiatives of the bypass elimination plan.

These involve the disinfection process, lagoon blending and effluent pumping, and the sludge storage basin. Another need, which is expected to be considered after the first of the year, is headworks and influent pumping. In this category, problems cited by the engineer include a hydraulic bottleneck, screens that allow certain material into the plant and sludge, and grit removal has failed structurally.

Disinfection requires mass fill, re-piping, and relocating outfall. Blending allows for management of lagoon storage and serves to limit discharges. And the sludge basin is described as having deteriorating concrete plus gravel causing maintenance problems.

The needed improvements are projected by Burns and McDonnell to cost an estimated $6,200,000. The engineers recommended the city take care of two other initiatives identified in the bypass plan: clarifier launder covers and a metal storage building for land application equipment and tractor.

It was noted Trenton has $2,700,000 available in certificates of participation to begin the projects. Another issuance of debt is anticipated for 2019.

In addition, the city council previously adopted a schedule of sewer rate increases for Trenton customers that were 30% in January, 30% in May, and there’s a projected increase of 26% percent next May (2018). There’s some doubt at this time that the next scheduled increase may not be sufficient to meet debt service coverage, however, that is to be further evaluated.

Financing the bypass elimination plan also takes into consideration operating and maintenance savings not yet realized, TMU customer reaction and/or changes in use, as well as what happens next year with ConAgra.

City officials were provided a draft of four possible financial scenarios that involve a $2,000,000 or $4,000,000 debt for 20 year period. Each projects potential impacts without ConAgra or with approximately 40% ConAgra operations.

It was noted any future decisions about sewer rates can be made when more is known regarding the use of the ConAgra facility in Trenton.

For some background information on the problems Trenton’s sewer plant and collection system have experienced for years, we recalled a previous interview with Jeff Barnard of the Burns and McDonnell engineering firm.



Another concern occurs during rainy events in which partially-treated sewage bypasses the sewer plant and gets into Muddy Creek.



Jeff Barnard and Dave Nauman represented Burns and McDonnell Engineering company at Tuesday night’s Utility Committee meeting in Trenton.