Project would expand sewer capacity

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By Brad Bowman

It took several years of planning, saving and jumping through grant hoops, but a project to increase Eminence’s sewer capacity by 250,000 gallons per day is holding water.

The project would increase capacity at Eminence’s treatment plant from 500,000 gallons to 750,000 gallons per day capacity, and may finally be coming down the pipeline.

Henry County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent and Henry County Water District No. 2 Chief Officer Jimmie Simpson have met with other officials in the county’s waste management council and the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency to prioritize water projects.

Brent said funding for the Eminence sewer project hasn’t been easy.

“Bill Smith and the city of Eminence have been working at this for almost 10 years,” Brent said. “Money has been put back over the years for this $1.5-million project. Funding for projects have been cut at the state level since the recession and the (Community Development Block Grant) federal dollars are very competitively sought-for dollars.”

Brent said the  $18 million CDBG money comes to the state from the feds and ultimately is allocated by the governor. Larger cities and towns compete for these dollars and Eminence’s application was put forth with a backing of strong relations from county officials to Frankfort.

“We hadn’t asked for anything since the health department,” Brent said. “The governor and lieutenant governor and I have a good relationship, and Rick Rand helped support this out of the hundreds of projects competing for this across the state.”

Brent said the project will give Eminence more room to grow and increase the city’s infrastructure making it more attractive for businesses that could relocate to Eminence.

Bill Smith, Eminence Public Works Director, submitted documents to CDBG for approval Monday night.  The Kentucky Division of Water approved the engineering and design plans for the project. Smith said next will be the bidding process.

“Once everything has been approved by the CDBG we can begin the bidding process,” Smith said. “The project was estimated at $1.4 million six years ago by our supplier. The funding mechanisms are in place. We’ve put money back over the years, we have a (Kentucky Infrastructure Authority) grant and $647,000 from the CBDG. If the estimate doesn’t come in too far over budget we will be okay.”

Smith said the treatment plant can handle growth now, but he wants to head off any problems that could prevent growth in the next five to 10 years as improvement costs won’t get any cheaper.

“Wet weather conditions infiltrating into our sewer system is our problem right now,” Smith said. “Enhancing our equipment with bigger pumps, blowers and additions to the lagoons will help with that.”

The plant purchases about 170,000 gallons of water per day and processes sewage from New Castle. The plant’s water lagoons are 11ft deep and the enhancements will allow them to handle 3.4 million gallons at maximum capacity. The plant pushes treated water through 17 miles of piping to the Kentucky River for industry in Lockport.

“We will also divide one of the lagoons into three cells and one will have a floating cover onit to control algae and solids,” Smith said. “We will have twice as many blowers in the lagoons.”

Smith said since the project doesn’t entail any earthwork or physical expansion, just the enhancement of equipment, improvements could begin by late fall or next year. The expansion will not affect rates for Eminence residents.

“We are not subject to raising rates for our residents,” Smith said. “We probably wouldn’t have proceeded with the project if they did. The rates are high enough as they are.”