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Wastewater Project Hits $13 Million
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Upgrades and repairs to the Oakdale Wastewater Treatment Plant are almost complete, but Oakdale City Council members would like some assurance that the engineering and construction meets industry standards. Final costs for the entire upgrade are estimated between $12 million and $13 million. The peer review process will cost an additional $30,000 to the sewer enterprise funds.

“We’re spending money to make sure this sewer plan serves the community for the 20 or 30 years it’s supposed to,” said Oakdale City Council member Tom Dunlop.

Upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility began in 2007 when Oakdale’s quarterly water monitoring revealed fecal coliform contamination in the water. The state issued a notice of violation and the city started the process of upgrading the wastewater treatment facility to prevent re-occurrences in the future. The project bid came in at $12 million and construction began in fall 2009.

The wastewater treatment plant improvement project initial study in 2008 found three “significant” problems with the wastewater treatment plant: the efficiency of the secondary clarifier, the lack of a disinfection facility, and the existing sludge beds’ inability to perform during the winter season. Those problems were all addressed during the current upgrade project.

“The water that comes out of that plant now is almost to drinking water standards,” said Joe Leach, director of public works for the City of Oakdale.

Leach said that most of the work is done on the treatment plant and the general contractor, Overaa Construction, and the Engineer of Record, HDR Engineering, have had less than 1 percent change orders.

“By all industry standard metrics it is a very successful project,” Leach said.

Council members add that their need for a peer review on the project comes from past problems with the plant and issues during the current construction project. A specific design flaw in the water removal step of waste treatment was causing pipes to be clogged with solids. HDR Engineering corrected the problem at no expense to the project budget. However, council wanted to make sure that there were no more issues that needed correction before the project is complete.

“You don’t do a 13 million dollar project without some hiccups. We’re getting close to the end of warranty on some of the equipment out there. This is just insurance that everything was done correctly,” said council member Jason Howard.

Provost and Pritchard Consulting Group was awarded a contract for peer review of the project. Their estimated cost for the review process is $30,000. Council was also asked to provide for further spending on the wastewater treatment facility at Monday night’s meeting. The facility’s entrance gate needs replacement, and city staff recommended council upgrade to an automatic gate with security cameras and key-coded access. Council questioned the need for an automatic gate, and requested that staff look into the cost of a regular gate with a camera for added security before making any decision.