A major overhaul to a sewer outfall line in Sunnyside City is becoming a "necessary" project for the city to have fixed, according to Warren Monroe, a senior construction manager with Jones and DeMille Engineering.
For the second time in the last three months, Monroe appeared before the city council and spent time talking of the need for the sewer outfall line to be replaced. A survey done on the pipe showed problems that included cracks in the pipe, root balls and holes on the sides. There has been at least one incident where the pipe backed up and raw effluent began running out from the pipe, Monroe said.
Monroe said he has continued to talk with Rural Development for funding for a study, but currently nothing has come from it. The new fiscal year for Rural Development begins in October and Sunnyside City should be one of the first in line for funding, he said. Instead of waiting, Monroe said the city needs to submit an application to the Community Impact Board for a project to be done with the sewer line.
"We believe its time to submit an application to the CIB and make a project out of this," Monroe said. "We think we know enough about it and can justify making it happen now."
One possible drawback to getting the project worked on is that the sewer outfall overhaul is not on Sunnyside's capital improvement list, which the CIB looks at quite heavily, Monroe said. Support would need to be sought, including from Carbon County Commissioners, stating that Sunnyside has tried to fix the problem but to no avail. So far, Sunnyside has spent between $8,000 to $10,000 on cleanup of the outfall line and a camera viewing of the inside of the pipe.
"We tried and tried and tried other avenues to get some funding to study this line to figure out why it is having the problems," Monroe said. "Condition of the pipe itself is the real drawback. It needs to be replaced."
For a project like this, the state looks at the medium adjusted gross income of the community. Sunnyside's medium adjusted gross income is listed at $33,343, according to the last published figures from 2008. With that figure, the state calculates the affordability based on state standards that the income could afford a sewer rate of $38.90 and a water rate of $48.63. To reach those figures, the state takes all of the zip codes from Sunnyside and they lump them into a bracket, taking the middle of that entire group to create a figure for a utility.
"Those (rate figures) were a little shocking," Monroe said. "These are the guidelines, not the absolute gospel."
Currently the time for financing with the CIB is very good and the application for a project is due in September. Sunnyside currently has a sewer rate charge of $24, which is fairly high, Monroe said. Preliminary cost estimates for a possible project are in the range of $250,000 to $300,000, which is not a massive project by any means, Monroe said.
"The city has shown a good faith effort to try and remedy the problems, quite frankly we are striking out here," Monroe said. "If this was a $3 to $4 million project, it would receive some real scrutiny. Bottom line is it's a necessary thing for Sunnyside to have done and the sooner the better."
Sunnyside City Mayor Doug Parsons said the city needs to have a good cemented cost for the project before appearing before the CIB.
This project would need to be approached as an emergency type project, Monroe suggested. The CIB doesn't like to do things like that, but it's not unheard of, he added.
One of the main issues Sunnyside will have to present to the CIB is the sewer rate and how much of an impact it will have on the community if the rate is increased. The city should go after a 100 percent grant for the project, Monroe suggested.
Residents in the community would need to be informed of the project and the possible sewer rate increase and public support would be required for the project, Monroe said.
Most of the sewer line is in an area where not a lot of pavement would need to be restored and the new line would follow the old alignment. The project would need to have clearance from the state and would also include inspections such as having someone come out and survey the area for any threats to endangered species and plants, Monroe said.
After returning to the city council for the first time since June, Monroe again stressed that the project is a necessity for the city to have completed.
"We have come up empty-handed on money to study this thing. We think it's time to move ahead," Monroe said.
"I don't think we are really looking at much of a choice here," Mayor Parsons said.
"You're just kind of caught between a rock and a hard spot," Monroe said.
Mayor Parsons suggested to the city council that the application process be started as soon as possible. The council unanimously passed a motion to get an application started to be turned into the CIB.