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Officials announce funding package for new wastewater treatment plant


Mayor Greg Wilder talks at an announcement of funding for Coulee Dam's wastewater treatment facility. - Scott Hunter photo

Engineers and officials from government agencies gathered at Coulee Dam's town hall Tuesday to announce the financing package for the town's new wastewater treatment plant.

Mayor Greg Wilder said the package through the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Rural Development agency includes a $4.7 million loan, a $1.53 million grant and $200,000 from the town's coffers.

"I'd like to believe what we have right now is the best of all alternatives that we've analyzed over time," Wilder said.

The $6.4 million total exceeds the loan the town would have incurred under an earlier plan by about $1.5 million, the amount of the grant.

"So we're getting a brand new facility, rather than a remodel project," Wilder noted.

Wilder and engineers said the new facility will bring operational savings over the years because of more automation and efficiency, with estimated yearly operations and maintenance cost of about $180,000.

That will put the necessary rate per "equivalent household unit" at about $68, as opposed to $83.40 under the earlier design, according to Wilder. It's currently at $56, and Wilder believes the future cost can be brought down more.

The current facility was built in 1971 and needs a worker "nearly seven days a week," explained Varela and Associates civil engineer Kurt Holland.

Holland said the cost of a new plant versus a rebuild of the old one "ended up being a cost toss up."

Noting the tie to "Earth week," USDA's state director, Mario Villanueva praised the project as very efficient, eco-friendly, with a reasonable cost.

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