Effingham City Council members approved Wednesday paying for work that is part of major infrastructure improvements being made within the city, totaling about $5 million.
Major improvements are being made to the city's sewer system, water treatment plant and Wabash River dam, not to mention water mains and manholes. The projects, which are at various levels of completion, are helping to improve drinking water, lessen amount of sewer water and repair aging lines.
According to Effingham Public Works Director Steve Miller, the projects are not only good for the city's residents, but businesses as well.
“Businesses look at what utilities are available to them when looking to see if they can locate their business in Effingham,” he said.
Receiving much attention is the city's sewer system. Rain water running into the sewer system has significantly increased the amount of sewer water that has to be processed. When rain water runs down into the sewer system, it can increase the amount of sewer water that is treated at the sewer plant by three-fold. On an average day, Miller said the city treats 3 million gallons of sewer water, with that number increasing to 9 million gallons after a hard rain.
“It is cheaper to streamline this system than to build a bigger sewer treatment plant,” he said. “We don't want to treat that capacity of water if we don't have to.”
Smoke and dye are being used to find any places in the line that are susceptible to water runoff. In addition, large sections of the city's sewer lines are being televised with a robotic camera, for which the council approved a $152,232 payment Wednesday. Once the trouble spots are located, the lines are either patched or relined. The city has been able to refurbish pipes without excavating the areas by using a felt substance that is sprayed with a resin, which is then pulled through to coat the line, said Miller. The process makes the line like new, he added.
On the Wabash River, a channel dam that has pooled future drinking water for the city is being replaced.
According to Miller, the dam, which has been in service for more than 100 years, is starting to show its age. Water has eroded the sides of the dam, leading it to potentially wash out if it is not replaced.
“Once a dam starts to erode on the back side, something needs done," said Miller. "At some point, the dam could have blown out."
The new dam is being built less than 50 feet away from the old dam, which will be demolished after the new dam is completed. The cost of the project is $1,031,875.
At the water treatment plant, an additional million-gallon clear well tank was built this year and a baffle was added to the current tank.
“The main reason for the baffle in the tank is that it creates a ribboning effect to increase the disinfectant contact time,” said Miller, adding previously the chemicals were not circulated, which created inconsistencies to the chemical levels.
A new lime softening system also was installed at the water treatment plant, softening the water delivered to city residents.
Another item the council approved for the water treatment plant was the purchase of the new actuators, which will allow improved control of the filtration process at the water treatment plant. The actuators, or electric motors, make automated shutoff of water line valves possible. The cost for the actuators is $51,758.60, plus $800 in shipping costs.
Work on the water treatment plant over the past two years has totaled more than $3 million.
Other infrastructures being improved include water mains and manholes.
During the meeting Wednesday, the council approved a change to the location of replacement water mains. The water mains were originally slated to be installed between Third and Second streets, but will now be installed near Edgar Street and Richland Avenue after it was determined the lines at Third and Second didn't need to be replaced. The 6-inch cast iron water mains, totaling 860 feet on Edgar and Richland, with replacement 8-inch PVC water main was also approved.
In the central part of the city, 77 manholes are being replaced. Because of old brick foundations below the streets of the city's oldest section, manholes are eroding from age and sewer gas. The brick is being replaced by concrete, and the holes are being sprayed with an epoxy.
Whether it's dealing with severe needs in service to the public, keeping in compliance with the IEPA or balancing need with available tax dollars, Miller takes it all in stride. This is possible with the help the city council, engineering staff and the operations division of the Public Works Department, said Miller
“It can be a struggle to make the needed improvements with funding,” said Miller. “The city has to be wise with money.”