MMU discusses some flooding repair, replacement needs

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Periodic water damage and the effects of the June 2021 flood were topics of the Board of Public Works meeting Thursday morning, Jan. 13.

That morning, board members heard a request to accept a bid for two dump trucks. The purchase is intended to replace two dump trucks for the Wastewater Treatment department that were submerged in the June flood. According to department head Nolan Townsend, bids were opened on Dec. 29.

“We had three companies submit bids to that,” he explained, noting his recommendation was for the low bid in the amount of $201,870.

The purchase would be from Rush Truck Centers of Kansas City for two 2023 International HV507 dump trucks.

Board member Steve Mills asked how this is working out with FEMA. Marshall Municipal Utilities General Manager Jeff Bergstrom stated FEMA agreed they should move forward in the purchase.

“We sent the bids to FEMA for review … We had a meeting yesterday with them. I signed off on the damages and everything yesterday,” Bergstrom said. “Once we get (the trucks) in, we’ll submit that cost to FEMA, and a reimbursement of up to 75 percent is what we’re looking for,” Bergstrom said.

Board members unanimously approved accepting the bid.

Townsend also sought a board consensus to get proposals to remodel the existing break room. The department has looked at moving it closer to the Wastewater Treatment department’s office, but Townsend said the “cost that we got on that is not going to be feasible.”

Much of the department’s equipment and buildings were affected by last year’s flood, as it is located adjacent to Salt Fork Creek, which rose quickly during heavy rain last June and poured over railroad tracks and a berm. Townsend and Bergstrom stated they are looking at having the berm — or levee — raised again.

“As far as mitigation, the berm raising would be more feasible than moving the break room, and it would protect more,” Townsend told the board.

Estimates to repair the break room were approximately $36,000, compared to moving it for an estimated cost of $150,000. Bergstrom stated the berm could be raised for approximately $160,000, and they would put a concrete wall on top of it. Board members approved the request to seek bids on repairing the room.

Watershed has been a challenge for another department, as well. Underground Facilities Director Grant Piper requested a sanitary sewer flow study. He was not able to attend the meeting Thursday, and Bergstrom provided the board with background information.

“You guys know (we’ve) had a huge issue for a long time with improvements to our collection system,” Bergstrom said. “That problem has been moved from the private side — the customer side — to our treatment plant. When we get rain … it floods.”

Last year, MMU treated roughly half-a-million gallons of rainwater.

“With efforts that we’ve made on the public side — manhole rehab, cured-in-place pipe … the inspection program we have, we’re pretty sure 80-plus percent of it is coming from the private side.”

The department would like to have a flow study conducted to help focus in on areas that are problematic with inflow and infiltration. Piper and Bergstrom recommended Burns & McDonnell conduct the study for a lump sum of $128,000. The item was budgeted at $125,000 before costs increased.

“Once this is done, we’re going to have to come up with a program and work with the community to resolve this issue,” Bergstrom continued. “It’s a huge issue.”

It was estimated MMU spends roughly a quarter of a million dollars treating rainwater that has seeped into the system.

“It costs our customers, it costs us money,” Bergstrom continued. “When we get 2 inches of rain, that treatment plant sees that water in a matter of hours.”

The excess water floods pumps, motors and other equipment in the headworks area.

Mills stated this has been a problem for more than 20 years. Newly appointed board member Chuck Hines asked how the excessive amount is calculated and how the condition of water mains affects I&I. Bergstrom explained they look at water sales and compare it to the amount of water treated, and that the good condition of MMU’s mains accelerates the speed in which the water inundates the department.

Board members unanimously approved the recommendation.

At the forefront of the meeting, Hines was welcomed to the board by Ken Bryant and the other members. The board then elected its officers based on the rotation they have used in recent years. Bryant is serving as board president, Mills as vice president, Spencer Fricke as secretary, and Hines as member.

After the regular meeting, board members went into closed session to discuss personnel and real estate matters.

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