Lander’s waste water treatment facilities to cost $4.3 million to repair; Current system not meeting all regulations

Dowl HKM's Diane Oress, right, updated the council on waste water treatment facility repairs. (Joshua Scheer photo)

Dowl HKM’s Diane Oress, right, updated the council on waste water treatment facility repairs. (Joshua Scheer photo)

By Joshua Scheer, reporter,

(Lander, Wyo.) – The Lander City Council was informed on Tuesday that it will need to come up with $4.3 million to adequately repair and upgrade the waste water treatment facilities.

Last year city received a $1.5 million loan to begin work on the facilities, only half of which is required to be paid back. In order to help pay back the amount, the city increased sewer fees.

Dowl HKM engineer Diane Oress told the council during a work session on Tuesday that starting last summer a detailed evaluation of waster water treatment ponds and equipment. She detailed a number of problems with the facility including a broken UV system and more than 16 inches of solid waste in the bottom of one of the ponds.

Oress also said the facility treating more water than it should. An average of 1.7 million gallons are coming in each day. Studies show most facilities should be treating about 100 gallons per person per day. If that was the case for Lander, about 750,000 gallons would be treated per day. She said Lander averages about 227 gallons per person per day, which is above what the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality deems to be “excessive.”

Oress said lack of conservation on the part of residents is a factor but mostly the high amount of water treated comes from infiltration (water seeping into the system) and illegal connections.

The city is also “regularly” exceeding its discharge permits for ammonia and E. Coli. Those restrictions are expected to get tighter in the coming years, and Oress said the city needs to show DEQ that they are working address the problems.

Oress said she and city staff worked through a number of options, combinations of what to fix, when and biggest bang for the buck before landing on the $4.3 million, three-phase option.

Included with be an air difusion system, a compete rock filter and new UV system.

“Moral of the story, we need more money,” Oress told the council.

She said the best options would be to apply for clean water and mineral royalty grants, and warned the council to be prepared to put some “skin in the game.” Local matches, she and Treasurer Charri Lara said, would likely have to come by increased fees passed to the customers.

Oress said Lander’s project is near the top of DEQ’s list of needs and that the state’s designation would help in securing funding.

Work will need to be done to make sure the previously acquired $1.5 million may be used for the reorganized and expanded project. Oress said so far there has been no resistance.

Water treatment plant annual report

Earlier in the meeting, Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Shane White gave the council his annual report.  In 2012, 687,212,008 gallons of potable water was produced at an average of 1,882,773 gallons per day. The lowest production month was November at nearly 29.5 million gallons. The highest was July with almost 125.6 million gallons.

“Keep in mind that this last summer was a voluntary usage reduction by all City of Lander consumers,” White said. “Water usage was down.”

He detailed some of the year’s projects and improvements.

“During the 2012 production season we only had one night of real runoff, and it was not even close to what the normal runoff would be like,” White wrote in his report.

Upcoming projects, he said, would be to perform extra cleaning and painting in preparation for more tours from schools and other groups.