Monday night’s city council meeting began the process of moving toward a referendum to accept a $3.5 million loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund for water system upgrades and maintenance. The loan would be paid at a 1.5-percent interest rate over a 20-year lending period, a rate that City Manager Richard Carmean and Davis, Bowen & Friedel Engineer Erik Retzlaff said the city would probably never see again.
“We’re not going to see 1.5 percent for a loan again,” Carmean said. “And it’s up to the people.”
A referendum would be required and Milford residents’ water bills would increase in order to pay back the loan. While a typical monthly water bill is currently about $13.50 per household, it would increase by approximately $1.18 per month, Carmean said.
The project will allow the city to check 2,500 valves within the city’s 82 miles of water main, evaluating their ability to properly function, replace those in need and monitor all wells with systems control and data collection upgrades. There is also money in this proposed budget to allow the city to investigate additional water sources.
“There is a need. That money will not go to waste,” Retzlaff said. “But the bulk of that money is to go toward the replacement of your valves and get a handle on your distribution system.”
While 75 percent of those valves are less than 35 years old, 10 percent of them are more than 75 years old, Retzlaff explained during the Public Works Committee meeting on Aug. 5. The valves are also very large, some reaching 24 inches in diameter, and the risk involved in trying to work the valves without the capacity to replace them if broken could result in water loss to local residents.
The city was previously considering funding the valve maintenance and replacement project piecemeal with water reserve funds over the span of a decade. Accepting the loan would allow the city to leave its water reserve funds untouched and complete the project in a much shorter span of time.
Because the public works department is unable to regularly check the valves due to staff restraints, it is unknown which of the valves are still in good condition and which are in need of replacement.
Carmean also discussed the possibility of upgrading the Shawnee Acres pump station, a 20-year-old facility on the south side of Milford.
“Sooner or later we’re going to reach a capacity,” Carmean said. “We probably should get ahead of the game.”
“It goes along with our thinking to be proactive and be ready for the new development to come,” said Councilwoman Katrina Wilson.
Page 2 of 2 - The intention would be to replace the pumping station with a larger one, as well as expand force main and gravity main. The project would take about two years to complete at about $1.18 million.
Carmean recommended that they move ahead with the project, but will bring more information to council at a future meeting before any vote is presented.