Bids will open this week to build a $26 million water treatment plant in northeast Willmar – West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — A new water treatment plant has been under construction for more than 10 years at Willmar Municipal Utilities.

Bids will open this week for the roughly $26 million project that will take about 18 months, according to Willmar Municipal Utilities general manager John Harren.

Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission members, city staff and city council members listen August 8, 2022, as Willmar Municipal Utilities water utility supervisor Alan Neer talks about plans for the new water treatment plant to be built next to the existing northeast water treatment plant. .

Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune

Tenders for the project will be awarded at the next meeting of the Municipal Utilities Board, pending review for completeness by a consultant from Willmar Municipal Utilities, and construction will begin as soon as the schedule for the selected contractor will allow it, according to Harren.

Members of the Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission, along with city staff and members of city council, visited the site of the new facility on August 8.

Willmar Municipal Utilities Water Service Supervisor Alan Neer pointed out the footprint of the new water treatment plant, which will be located next to the existing water treatment plant from the northeast. The current plant will remain in operation while the new plant is built, then will be demolished when the new plant is operational, according to Neer.

Although 75-80% of the design of the new water treatment plant was completed about three years ago, the capacity of the current plant was still sufficient to meet the needs of the city and it still met the standards. of water quality. As a result, construction of the new facility was put on hold in an attempt to secure grants to fund the project, according to Harren.

“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had in securing any kind of grant or funding for this project is with the city’s wastewater – their inability to meet the salt discharge or chloride limit. The only way to qualify for a lot of these programs is to meet that,” Harren said. “Now the price to pay to get there — and that estimate is about three years old when the city and the utility jointly looked at our options there — it’s about $100 million.”

Willmar Municipal Utilities could no longer wait for grants due to the current plant’s lack of capacity, and instead issued 10-year bonds to fund the new plant project, Harren noted.

The design of the new plant will help Willmar Municipal Utilities solve some of the problems they have in meeting chloride limits, according to Harren.

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