Sewer system’s overhaul expected to be completed within two years

May. 14, 2013 @ 05:54 PM

Henderson and Vance County officials celebrated construction starting for the $18 million project to overhaul the city’s sewer system with a ground-breaking at the Nutbush facility on West Andrews Avenue Tuesday.

Leaders hailed the three-year efforts of many local and state offices for a project they say is 20 years overdue.

The largest features of the new Henderson Water Reclamation Facility will be two large oxidation ditches, up to 300 feet long each, for sewage processing that cuts out several older system steps.

Facility Director Tom Spain said he looks forward to less bandage-strip repairs on old equipment.

“This has been a dream of mine,” Spain said. “I wanted to leave this plant better off than when I came, and I am not far away from retirement. My maintenance budget has been climbing every year, and it’s going to plummet down after these upgrades.”

Henderson City Manager Ray Griffin estimated the construction work will take 18-24 months to complete. Spain said he can tell that contractor Devere Construction Company, Inc., of Alpena, Mich., is eager to stay on schedule.

Assistant City Manager Frank Frazier said the ceremony drawing several dozen to the facility Tuesday morning was an opportunity to recognize many who had a hand in the effort to get the long-overdue work going.

“It is a big deal for us,” Frazier said. “It is a lot of money, but it will secure our future. The plant will look totally different by the end of 2014.”

Henderson Mayor Pete O’Geary said thanks is also due to city staff under the leadership of managers Griffin and Frazier, to bring a state-of-the-art system to the city just in time as needs grow and regulatory standards are changing.

“I know these improvements have been needed for decades,” O’Geary said.

Spain said the oxidation ditch system had been in place at other cities at least since the early 1990s, and Henderson leaders wanted to upgrade for that technology as long ago as 1994.

Plant closures, with impacts to sewer system revenues, then further economic impacts from the national economy, put constant delays and threats of more delay onto efforts to get upgrades funded.

Engineer estimates early on were at $14.2 million for the work to be done. The council approved a budget amendment to include a contingency fund of $776,000 with a total budget for the project of $18,597,470 as of January.

The contingency fund can be recovered if overrun costs are less.

The budget is paid according to prior agreements from funding sources that include $15.6 million in state revolving loans to be charged at zero-percent interest over 20 years, $1.6 million in state loan forgiveness and development grants, and $379,000 in utility fund transfers.

The facility began in 1938 with bar-screen clarifier and anaerobic digester systems and sludge drying beds, and received upgrades in 1962 and 1982, and improvements in the 1990s.

Spain started with the facility in 1980.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.