The city of Campbell, Minnesota, held a public hearing Monday, June 21 to discuss two projects to update water and wastewater infrastructure in the town. The projects have been in the works for two to three years and would cost over $10 million, Campbell City Clerk Tanya Kath said.
Multiple funding sources would be used to cover the cost of the project, Widseth Smith Nolting & Assoc., Inc. Project Engineer Larry VanHout said. It is more cost effective to do larger projects and address all of the city’s needs at the same time. The city can utilize state loans — the amount dependent on Campbell’s median income — before gaining access to grants.
“(The state) will look at income information and determine how much we can afford for loans and anything above that would be a grant,” Kath said. “So that’s why we’re looking at a big project. We’re looking at as much as we can because anything above the loans is grant money.”
VanHout first addressed the wastewater system in Campbell. The wastewater stabilization pond, a two-cell pond system, is 50 years old and worn out, VanHout said. The dikes are eroding and the ponds are leaking, which VanHout is concerned are leaking excessively. The lift station and collection system also have issues, mainly related to age and general degradation.
There are several options the city could pursue for improving its wastewater system. For the collection system, VanHout suggested replacing the manholes and the main pump station. For wastewater treatment, he suggested two options: a new 3.6 acre stabilization pond for Campbell or a joint 5.4-acre stabilization pond for Campbell and Tintah.
“The pond system would serve both communities. Tintah’s got needs, too,” VanHout said. “ … If we can combine, it may save dollars for the whole community.”
A joint community stabilization pond would be more expensive, but Tintah has a lower median income than Campbell that could help the communities gain more grant funding, VanHout said.
If Campbell were to operate a wastewater system with Tintah, it would cost around $6.69 million for all the improvements and would be split between the two communities based on population. The annual operation and maintenance costs would add about $45,580 to the cost.
The water system also needs updates, VanHout said. One concern is the water main is not looped. That means if a line breaks, there could be multiple houses that suddenly have no water access.
“When you do water systems, you really want to have everything looped so if something breaks, you can shut a valve and keep most everybody back on the line,” VanHout said.
Some of the city’s hydrants are difficult to operate or inoperable, and the storage tank is over a century old. The Minnesota Department of Health has previously looked at the storage tank and suggested the city find a replacement for it. There is also concern because the tank is the city’s only source of water, and if something unexpected happened to it, the city would need to wait for another pressure tank to arrive, VanHout said.
As an alternative, VanHout suggested either a 40,000-gallon ground tank or a 50,000-elevated tank. He recommended a ground tank due to issues elevated tanks can have in the winter. The ground tank would have comparable water pressure to an elevated tank, VanHout said.
VanHout also touched on the lack of individual water meters. He proposed installing radio read water meters so properties would pay based on how much water they were using.
The city has two wells, one that is over 100 years old and one that was constructed in 1997. VanHout suggested rehabilitating the 1997 well and reconstructing the older well.
The total estimated cost of the water system improvements would be $3.74 million, and the annual operation and maintenance costs would be around $37,640.
“In a small town like this, you can’t really afford to do a project like this without some kind of state and federal assistance,” VanHout said. “That’s kind of the track we’ve been on, preparing for state and federal requirements.”
VanHout said to help fund the wastewater project, there is the Clean Water Revolving Fund, Water Infrastructure Fund, Point Source Implementation Grant and USDA Rural Development loans and grants. To fund the water project, there is similar funding: a Drinking Water Revolving Fund, Water Infrastructure Fund and USDA Rural Development loans and grants.
“If cities have a need and a want, they can usually find a funding partner that will work with them,” VanHout said.
Some meeting participants questioned how the funding would be paid back, which VanHout said would be the city’s discretion. The city council could decide to pay it back through special assessments, or possibly a levy.
“We’ve got some flexibility and public input on how we pay that back,” VanHout said.
The level of funding could also change based on the new median income data that comes out from the 2020 Census results, VanHout said. Approving the funding should take a couple years, VanHout said, so he expects a start date of 2023.
“They want to see those projects go, that’s what they’re there for,” VanHout said of the state.