Logan this week secured additional funding for its regional wastewater treatment plant after estimated construction costs increased by $25 million in the past two years.
The Utah Water Quality Board, an appointed board under the administrative arm of the Utah Division of Water Quality, or DWQ, on Wednesday approved a new $20 million, 30-year loan at 1.5 percent interest. In 2015, the Water Quality Board approved an initial $70 million loan with a 20-year life at 0.75 percent. The $90 million in funding from the DWQ will combine with a $10 million loan from the Community Impact Fund Board.
“That gives us the $100 million we were looking for,” Mark Nielsen, Logan senior construction management engineer over the project, said in a Wednesday interview.
A cost estimate from Carollo Engineering in 2016 placed the total construction cost at $106 million and increased that figure to $131 million this year. MWH Constructors, hired as construction manager/general contractor, will seek approval for a guaranteed maximum price of $135 million from the Logan Municipal Council in October, which includes $4.3 million in contingency.
Residents in seven cities that use Logan’s wastewater system — Logan, Smithfield, Hyde Park, North Logan, Providence, River Heights and Nibley — will all chip in to fund the plant and pay off the loans. Logan will contribute approximately $50 million from the city’s coffers.
John Mackey, engineering section manager for the DWQ, said it’s not unusual for local governments to come back to the Water Quality Board for additional funding.
“Right now it’s happening regularly it seems,” Mackey said.
He said the Water Quality Board typically approves funding for public works projects at the end of the planning stage, but then cities have to design the project, which can take years. Projects in Salem, Moab and San Juan County will soon be asking for loan increases, he said.
“Costs change and particularly now the economy is hot, construction is hot, we have two major projects in the state, the airport and the prison,” Mackey said.
Logan’s existing lagoon system and the new mechanical wastewater treatment plant, expected to be complete in April 2022, are both rather unique.
Mackey said the lagoons are reportedly one of the largest lagoon systems in the country. He said they are OK by 1970s standards and are very economical to operate. But the effluent from the system heads to Cutler Reservoir, which is on the Environmental Protection Agency’s 303(d) list of impaired waterways for high levels of phosphorous.
Getting it off that list is a priority for the state of Utah. Mackey said the DWQ has a system for prioritizing applications and projects based on the water quality benefit — and the Logan project in 2015 was the highest ranked project in the state.
He said the lagoons are very susceptible to the environment and ammonia is very hard to treat in cold weather, which is not ideal for the climate of Cache Valley. Mackey said the biggest difference between the lagoons and the new mechanical plant will be consistency. Mechanical plants have very good control over biochemical reactions.
“Logan is using innovative and advanced technologies to help make this mechanical plant as small as they can while being very efficient at treating the wastewater to higher levels consistently,” Mackey said.
Just as the lagoons are relatively large, John Kolkman, senior project manager at MWH Constructors, said the new plant will be the largest of its type in the western United States. He said parts of the mechanical plant are very conventional, but it will use a novel process called BioMag, a trademark of Evoqua water technology company.
In the BioMag process, magnetite — a type of iron ore particle — is dosed into the screened wastewater to help settle the solids at a faster pace. Kolkman said the process allows for a smaller and more efficient plant. Also helping with efficiency is the fact that it’s a greenfield project, meaning it’s not a retrofit of a an existing plant.
“You’re building from the ground up and you can really lay things out efficiently and that definitely helps with the schedule,” Kolkman said.
But that doesn’t detract from the complexity of the project. For the past several months, Kolkman has been bringing together 25 separate procurement packages and 30 subcontracting companies. Some of the contractors are local companies, like Lundahl Building, Cache Valley Electric and Rupp Trucking.
As the funding for the project comes from the State Clean Water Revolving Fund, Kolkman said there is a “buy American steel” clause. The large-diameter steel piping and structural steel for the buildings will all have to come from American manufacturers.
With funding secured, Nielsen said work on the “shovel ready” project will begin as early as the day after Thanksgiving. He said crews will start mobilizing equipment to the site at that time and will be driving piles into the earth all winter long.