Waterloo Waste Water Treatment Plant

The Waterloo Waste Water Treatment plant as photographed by a drone.

WATERLOO — The city took steps this week to improve how it handles and treats sewage.

Waterloo City Council members voted unanimously Monday to approve contracts for a new sanitary sewer line to reduce backups during wet weather and treatment plant improvements for the material once it gets there.

Strand Associates Inc. of Madison, Wis., was hired under a $1.49 million contract to provide bidding services and engineering oversight during a project to upgrade the biosolids handling at the treatment plant on Easton Avenue.

That process involves removing, treating and drying the solid material in the sewage so it can be tilled into farm fields.

“We’ve got a lot of antiquated equipment; we’ve got a bottleneck at the plant,” said Randy Bennett, public works division manager. “It’s going to correct part of that.”

The city plans to seek bids at a later date to construct the improvements, which are part of an overall facilities plan including an estimated $100 million in treatment plant improvements of the next 20 years.

Bennett said the biosolids project will make the plant more efficient and reduce operating expenses over time.

Council members also approved a separate $4.27 million contract with Boomerang Corp. of Anamosa to construct the long-planned Dry Run Creek interceptor sewer.

The new 12-inch sanitary sewer main will be constructed along the south side of San Marnan Drive from Kimball Avenue to an area southeast of Crossroads Center mall and will divert wastewater currently running up the West Ninth Street area.

Heavy rains, including record rainfall in the fall of 2018, caused the current sewer lines to overflow into Dry Run Creek or back up into homeowners’ basements. The new interceptor is designed to reduce those backups.

Waterloo is under a court order from the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency to make an estimated $70 million in repairs and changes to its sanitary sewer collection system to reduce having untreated sewage overflow into area rivers and streams.

Both the treatment plant project and the Dry Run Creek interceptor are being funded with general obligation bonds or state revolving loan funds, which both are paid off using sewer user fees collected by the city.

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