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Local

Sycamore City Council approves sewer system plan, equipment purchase

Mark Bushnell, Sycamore city engineer, talks about the proposed capacity, management, operation and maintenance plan for the city's sanitary sewer collection system Monday evening after the City Council meeting.
Mark Bushnell, Sycamore city engineer, talks about the proposed capacity, management, operation and maintenance plan for the city's sanitary sewer collection system Monday evening after the City Council meeting.

SYCAMORE – The City Council unanimously approved two measures Monday that would provide expertise and equipment to evaluate the efficiency of the city’s sewage system.

The council voted, 8-0, to enter into a professional services agreement with Strand and Associates, Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin, to help the city create a capacity, management, operations and maintenance plan – which will outline how the city maintains the sanitary sewer system, records sewage overflows and system maintenance and rehabilitation – by Nov. 1 in compliance with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Generating the plan is expected to cost $29,500 and it is expected to provide direction for the city for at least 10 years.

The council also voted, 8-0, to buy a better pipeline inspection camera system from Eco Infrastructure Solutions of Whitestown, Indiana, for the city’s sewer system for about $160,000.

City Manager Brian Gregory said the city allocates $250,000 in its budget for annual sanitary sewer system rehabilitation costs. He said spending the money for the expertise and the inspection equipment now will help the city to stay within that allocation in the future.

“You have to stretch as much as you can to try to make the biggest impact possible,” Gregory said.

City Engineer Mark Bushnell said the average daily flow to the treatment plant currently is 2.4 million gallons a day – which is not an unusual number, he said. But the more it rains, the more energy is required to maintain the system, he said; 3 inches of rain in a 24-hour period results in flows of about 6 million gallons a day, for example.

Bushnell said he’d like to use the camera system, which has a life span of at least a decade, to help diagnose smaller issues within the system more quickly and fix those problems before they grow into a water main break or sewer overflows, thus reducing costs for emergency repairs.

“By tightening up the sanitary sewer system, you reduce the amount of water that’s going into the plant and you reduce the operational costs, and you also free up capacity of the line,” Bushnell said.

Gregory said the approved plan and system purchase won’t result in additional rate increases for residents. He said the plan would hopefully help maintain sewage rates going forward for residents.

First Ward Alderman Alan Bauer said he’s glad that the city is finally able to consider a plan and surveillance equipment that would enable better reaction time on the city’s part if an issue arises within the system.

“If we can prevent problems before they are problems, it’s all good,” Mayor Curt Lang said.

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