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Sycamore City Council moves forward on wastewater treatment expansion

$26 million project could begin in fall

Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory discusses the Illinois Environment Protection Agency loan application with the City Council on Tuesday. The loan will allow the city to expand the wastewater treatment plant to a capacity that should see it through the next 20 to 30 years.
Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory discusses the Illinois Environment Protection Agency loan application with the City Council on Tuesday. The loan will allow the city to expand the wastewater treatment plant to a capacity that should see it through the next 20 to 30 years.

SYCAMORE – The Sycamore City Council voted to approve an ordinance that allows it to borrow more than
$20 million from the Illinois Environment Protection Agency to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plant. If the loan is approved, the city will go out to bid late winter or early spring and construction could begin in the fall.

At the beginning of the meeting, the City Council was introduced to the new city employees that had begun working during the past year. One of those employees was the new superintendent of the wastewater treatment plant, Matt Anderson, whose first day on the job was Tuesday.

“Not many people get a $26 million project on their first day,” 1st Ward Alderman Alan Bauer joked. “I think my first day they handed me a broom.”

The upgraded wastewater treatment plant would add about 2 million gallons a day in capacity for the plant, bringing it up to 4.9 million gallons a day. It will also upgrade equipment, including a new ultraviolet light disinfection system and microscreening to filter out organic matter.

“We’re looking at borrowing about $19 million,” City Manager Brian Gregory said. The ordinance allowed for the borrowing up up to $20.8 million as a contingency.

The money could be made available at the start of the state’s fiscal year in July, but some funds could be made available earlier through bypass funds not allocated during the current fiscal year.

The city is able to kick in about $7 million of its own from the Sewer Fund Reserve and Sewer Impact Fee Fund.

“This was all budgeted into what we have planned,” Mayor Curt Lang said.

Debt service payments are expected to be about $1.1 million annually, an amount that was anticipated in 2015 when the new user fee schedule was approved and phased in over three years.

Gregory said the final rate increases were implemented in May and there are no planned increases in the future.

Construction is expected to take 18 months, possibly up to two years, to complete.

Public Works Director Fred Busse said the plant was already operating at its 2.9 million gallons-a-day flow rate. He said there are several ways to calculate capacity for the plant.

“We’ve been right at capacity for a while,” he said. “Not only hydraulically as far as gallons per day, also organically as far as how many pounds of organic matter we receive. We’ve actually been exceeding that capacity.”

Busse said he expects the expansion of capacity to 4.9 million gallons a day should fill the city’s needs for at least the next 20 years.

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