COLUMBUS JUNCTION — Two public hearings dealing with two separate projects will be held by Columbus Junction on the same day, the city council agreed during its regular meeting Wednesday.
Both hearings will be held on Nov. 14, the next meeting date for the city council.
The first hearing approved was for the city’s anti-degradation alternatives analysis, which will provide the city with options for meeting new sewage treatment standards.
According to previous discussions, some discharges from the city’s lagoon system have exceeded revised treatment standards. Officials had reported the violations were occurring during cold weather, with discharges in December and March usually in violation. Most of the problem appeared to be related to ammonia levels.
One process that initially seemed suitable for meeting the new standards involved algae-based technology. However, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources later decided the proposed amount of that new equipment was not enough to handle the city load and ruled more equipment was needed.
Officials said that boosted the cost to nearly $3 million, making another alternative, running a direct discharge line to the river and using a UV lighting system to kill bacteria, a less costly option.
Matt Walker, an engineer with French-Reneker, Fairfield, which is developing the alternatives analysis, updated the council Wednesday on the cost.
“When we were going through the cost analysis before we were always talking right around $500,000 for the UV, it’s looking like it has the potential to be $600,000,” he said, explaining the DNR wanted the system’s design to take into account 100-year floods.
That could require the installation of a lift station, rather than relying simply on gravity. Council member Phil Kaalberg said the idea of installing a lift station as part of the project seemed foolish.
“That’s crazy to do something like that, isn’t it?” he asked.
Walker said once the design phase of the project was reached, the city could argue against that initial decision and hopefully not have to install the station.
Meanwhile, he said the city could also begin developing plans for seeking grants and other funding assistance. He said the Community Development Block Grant and the State Revolving Loan Fund were likely opportunities.
In the other public hearing set by the council, the public will have an opportunity to comment on the specifications, drawings and other details for the proposed replacement of the Monkey Run bridge on Locust Street with a reinforced concrete box culvert.
The initial estimated cost for the replacement culvert was $484,000, which included engineering work. Most of that cost will be covered through grant funds, with the city expected to cover 20 percent. Mayor Mark Huston said the city had that local match available.
“We have the funds in road use tax to cover this,” Huston said.
The Iowa Department of Transportation will open bids for the project on Nov. 20 and Walker said work would begin before September 2019.
In other business, council member Frank Best said he, community development director Mallory Smith and city librarian Mandy Grimm would meet Nov. 7 in a planning session for the city’s new historic preservation commission. Best said some community members were being invited, but anyone with an interest in serving on the commission is welcome.