COMMERCE— The excavation process has been completed at the new Commerce Passive Treatment System at the Tar Creek Superfund site.

The treatment system was discussed during the Commerce City Council’s monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The Commerce Passive Treatment site is located next to Mickey Mantle Field and Commerce High School. Construction began in late September.

The passive treatment system works to filter out the harmful elements found in the groundwater from leftover mining waste, including elevated levels of iron, zinc, lead and cadmium concentrations.

“I’m gonna give you a quick rundown of what’s going on with our Commerce Passive Water Treatment System Project,” City Engineer Jack Dalrymple said. “Today, all of the excavations are complete. They’re really moving it and they’re doing a great a job. It looks really neat. It’s going to be a real opportunity for us to have an educational project out there and an active project to help remove the stigma from our community.”

The University of Oklahoma is working under a Sponsored Research and Remediation Agreement with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to complete the project.

The passive water treatment has already been proven successful in another area of Commerce called Mayer Ranch. The ranch is the lowest spot in the watershed and located southeast of Commerce, as well. The treatment system works with the ponds and wetlands working as filters.

According to Dalrymple, the large piles of dirt found at the water treatment site will be sent to a repository by the Quapaw Tribe, who are the contractors.

“Some of the soil was clean and some of it was dirty,” Dalrymple said. “It’s impossible to separate the clean from the dirty. You have to be out constantly taking soil samples, and it was a task that DEQ didn’t want to handle. We have to assume it’s all dirty and clear it out.”

The intent of this project is to construct a passive treatment system that will address contaminated mine drainage water quality associated with discharges from the reclaimed surface collapse features located on the site. Construction work on the site will continue into the spring of 2017.

In school engineering reports, Dalrymple mentioned that the major part of the footing and the rough end plumbing has been completed at the new middle school site.

In other news, the board discussed which engineering services to hire for the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The CDBG program enables rural Oklahoma communities to finance a variety of public infrastructure and economic improvements and helps promote job growth as a result of these improvements.

CDBG funds are provided by the federal government, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and managed by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to help ensure Oklahoma’s most critical needs are addressed.

“We have two companies that can provide services for our grant, Anderson Engineering out of Joplin and Jack Dalrymple of Miami Engineering Services,” City Administrator Tommy Long said. “It was reviewed by myself and the committee I put together. I recommend Miami Engineering Services.”

The board approved to hire Miami Engineering Services to work on the CBDG Grant.

Next, the board discussed and approved to accept funds from OMAG for the 2013-2014 Workman’s Compensation claim year.

“There were no claims in the 2013-2014 year, so they are refunding monies, a certain amount of premiums paid, to municipalities through the state,” Long said. “They just need an authorization from the council to return the proceeds back to the city. I’m very proud of our guys for not having any worker’s compensation claims for a long time.”

In Long’s city administration report, he said one of the grants Commerce received will be held up due to a mandatory endangered beetle study.

“The only time the American burying beetles can be studied is from April 1 to Sept. 30, and because of the late date that the federal government released funds, it pushed us past the date to study it. We’re looking to study it on April 1 through May.”

In the fire department report, fire chief Michael Sweeten said the annual trick-or-treat event went well. The department is also looking to purchase a new rescue truck through county money.

“Once we get that truck, we’ll take our current rescue truck and turn it into a brush truck because one of our other brush trucks is down right now,” Sweeten said.

Commerce City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 6 at City Hall for their next regular scheduled meeting.

Kimberly W. Barker is a staff writer for the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at Follow her on Twitter @MiamiNews_hound.