Some of the equipment used to treat around 4.5 million gallons of wastewater each day at the Laramie Wastewater Treatment Plant will soon need to be replaced, according to city staff.
The Laramie City Council voted unanimously Oct. 15 to approve the application for a $9.5 million loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which is granted by the State Loan and Investment Board.
Councilman Charles McKinney was absent for the vote.
Loan funds will be used in part to fund the purchase of six new blowers, Public Works director Brooks Webb said during the meeting.
“They’re all about 30 years old and reaching end of useful life,” Webb said.
The six blowers are used in the oxidation ditches and aeration process, which gives microorganisms air so they can grow and digest the organic pollutants in the wastewater.
Part of the funds would be used to build a new, larger building so all six blowers can be in the same area. Currently the blowers are split between two buildings, and it’s likely that one of the two buildings will be demolished during or after the project.
Additionally, some of the funds will be used to add a power generator to the plant so it can operate in case of a power outage.
“We currently don’t have that,” Webb explained to the council. “If the power goes down, the plant does not fully operate. A recent homeland security report identified that as one of our weaknesses and a number one priority for resiliency.”
Should the city’s application be accepted, the CWSRF loan will be a 30-year loan with a 2.5% interest rate and 25% forgiveness.
User fees would be used to repay the loan.
“The project is included in our 10-year financial plan, so it’s already included in the user fees,” Webb said. “User fees will not need to be increased for this project.”
Because the city is considering powering the new blowers with natural gas, the project may also be eligible for green project financing, which comes with 0% interest.
Honeywell Corporation is currently under contract to perform energy efficiency audits throughout the city, and Webb said the consulting firm will be doing an investment-grade audit on the wastewater treatment plant and the new blowers, specifically.
“Right of the bat we know it’s new equipment, so it’s most likely more energy efficient, but they’ll be looking at the different types of systems and the controls, the wiring, to make those as efficient as possible,” Webb explained to the council.
The project timeline has the project going out to bid in the spring.