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Lake City News

Lake City's $18,000,000 New Wastewater Plant on Hold: It's Back to the Drawing Board

LAKE CITY, FL –  Last night in City Hall the 2010, $18,000,000 bond issue for a new wastewater plant and improvements to the old one took center stage as the City Utility Committee discussed its options. City Manager Wendell Johnson led the discussion. He told the Committee, "There are two major projects that the bond was intended to fund. One was the Kicklighter wastewater treatment plant, new construction, and the other was upgrading the existing St. Margarets wastewater treatment plant."

The City hired two engineering firms: one for the new Kicklighter Plant and one for the St. Margarets improvements.

City Manager Johnson announced that the cost for the upgrade for the existing St. Margarets plant was $4,299,100.

CM Johnson explained that the staff was reconsidering the City's total wastewater utility plan.

$18,000,000: no new capacity

He told the Committee, "The first thing that came to mind was we are going to be spending this money to do this major construction work, and we are not going to gain any capacity out of either one of these projects."

CM Johnson continued, "There are a number of scenarios that the City has to consider before moving forward."

CM Johnson also mentioned the $4,000,000 reclaimed water system, which became operational in August 2012, was another factor that had to be "thrown into the mix."

"We've had some problems with that plant, with both customer demand and mechanical issues," he said.

CM Johnson said, "The timing of the use of the bond money is coming into its window. We have to start moving on this."

Back to the drawing board

CM Johnson recommended that Hatch Mott MacDonald's engineering firm assess the entire wastewater system. "We've got to make sure that everything we do ties into the other components of the wastewater system as a whole, which is the reclaimed water system and the spray fields... The lack of emphasis has been on getting some more capacity. If we spend all this money and we don't have any more capacity than we have today, it is not in the City's best interest."

Michael Murphy, the Vice President of Hatch Mott MacDonald, was invited to address the Committee.

He told the Committee, "It's clear that you don't have enough money in the bond issue and even within the City reserves to do everything that the City would like to do... I became aware with all the needs that the City had -- that in combination with Kicklighter – there's just not enough money."

Mr. Murphy continued, "Some numbers need to be put on paper that the staff can then use to make a decision on how to spend the remainder of the bond money. There has to be an increase in capacity. I don't see any rationale in spending all this money and not having an increase in capacity."

Mr. Murphy said the evaluation would probably take no more than 30 days.

Both the Utility Committee and the City Council approved Hatch Mott MacDonald's revaluation of the City's wastewater projects.

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