MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 15, 2012

Eufaula loan to improve water treatment plant

Oklahoma Water Resources Board officials granted the city of Eufaula’s request for a low-interest loan, which will fund improvements to its wastewater treatment plant.

Plant upgrades and expansion were mandated by a consent order issued by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

The agency ordered improvements be made to the city’s antiquated wastewater treatment plant. The nearly $4.04 million loan will be used to address inflow at the treatment facility and sanitary sewer overflows.

The city’s wastewater treatment plant expansion is expected to include:

• Construction of a new aeration basin and a flow-equalization basin.

• Construction of a new clarifier, an aerobic digester and additional drying beds.

• Modification of the existing headworks.

• Construction of a new sewage lift station and replacement of some sewer mains.

“We, like a lot of other small towns, have had a lot of line breaks,” Eufaula Mayor Selina Jayne-Dornan said, citing extreme heat and drought conditions as possible sources of the problem. “The lines are very old, but we are trying to stay on top of that as much as we can.”

To help repay the loan, Jayne-Dornan was able to push through in November the extension of a half-cent sales tax. Passage of the extension, Jayne-Dornan said, was necessary to avoid “huge rate increases.”

Joe Freeman, chief of the water board’s financial assistance division, said the loan from the clean water state revolving fund will be retired over a 30-year period. The loan will be secured with a lien on Eufaula’s utility receipts, proceeds from the city’s sales tax, and a possible mortgage on the town’s water and sewer systems.

Freeman said the low-interest state loan, when compared with prevailing market rates, will save Eufaula utility customers an estimated $1.2 million during the life of the loan.

Eufaula’s wastewater treatment plant — originally built in 1977 — was designed to process a maximum of 370,000 gallons of sewage each day. Once renovations are completed, the plant will be able to process 910,000 gallons of wastewater daily, increasing its capacity by 146 percent.

More than 1,800 customers use the city’s wastewater treatment system, up 10 percent from the estimated 1,640 users tied into the system in 2002.

OWRB has provided Oklahoma communities $2.6 billion in loans and grants since 1983 for infrastructural improvements involving water and wastewater treatment systems.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot @muskogeephoenix.com.

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