Miami water, sewer plan researched to address aged infrastructure long in need of replacement and repair.

MIAMI – Corroded, clogged and rusted sewer and water pipes, some placed in service 100 years ago in Miami, are long in need of replacement and repair. A detailed and in-depth search by the Public Utility Department staff investigating alternative funding opportunities through state and other entities was presented at the last Miami City Council and Miami Special Utility Authority meeting, as well as a much-needed capital improvement plan for the undertaking.

“It won't get any better,” Miami City Manager Dean Kruithof said. “This is something we absolutely have to do because they will not fix themselves.”

The MSUA requested the report as well as a focused look at the most immediate infrastructure needs and estimated costs back in May as a plan was being developed.

The plan included a list of water and sewer lines that would be replaced or repaired with a $9 million bond.

The bond along with the capital outlay items such as the City's Electric Utility infrastructure improvement plans were used in Wildans Financial Services, a public finance consultant, rate study presentation by Vice President Dan Jackson to determine rates for the coming years for the City of Miami.

Miami Director of Public Utilities Tyler Cline and Olsson Associates Shaun McConnaughey went over several options looking into an effort to find free money resources and loan programs.

City staff met with the Oklahoma Water Resource Board (OWRB) and Indian Health Services, and USDA for drinking water and found no funds for replacing existing lines in the community, and for sewer, the City of Miami did not meet any funding requirements.

OWRB FAP Loans, rates and terms were researched with no reserve and with no environmental requirements. EPA backed Clean Water Sate Revolving Fund loans were looked at for wastewater and stormwater projects, and these loans do not accrue interest until money is actually drawn and are cheaper than FAP, shaving off 40 percent of the interest rate, but then adding 0.5 percent to the final rate to cover costs and requiring environmental review.

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loans offer a similar discount and is co-managed with DEQ. The MSUA and staff will be weighing the pluses and negatives of each possibility to determine which course is best for Miami's necessary infrastructure capital improvement plan.

The department forecast for the proposed City of Miami needed infrastructure improvements is calling for $9 million in bonding in 2018, and $6 million in bonding in 2020 and again in 2022.

Kruithof said there are first state funding opportunities to look at before borrowing such a large amount of money for the top priority projects, and in turn rate increases could also be delayed or much smaller.

“There's some very real opportunities with that,” he said.

A rate study was conducted to determine what rate increases would be passed on to utility customers to fund the necessary infrastructure improvements.

“We could do these projects in the same amount of time but not have as big an impact on our customers,” Kruithof said.

Mayor Rudy Schultz thanked the staff for the research and presentation.

Cline pointed out the list is subject to changes with economic development or future growth. He said besides the listed projects, utility crews would continue to replace five to 10 blocks of waterlines a year within the yearly budget using boring equipment.

The waterline capital improvement plan presented lays out the specific line, present material, length, current size, replacement size and cost for each project.

“We brought in some interesting waterlines, this is the two-inch water main that we removed, and you can see all the sediment inside of it,” Cline said, holding up an old rusted piece of waterline he said he estimates around 100 years old. “You can see all the sediment inside, this is what it stirred up when we flushed the hydrants.”

Cline presented photos of hydrant flushing showing heavily brown and rust colored water flowing from the lines, indicating the obvious need of repair or replacement.

The plan presented listed 14 projects, major feeder lines, at an estimate of $7,403,000, starting with waterline replacement from Central from H Street NW to Elm Street.

McConnaughey said the list of estimates might be more, but if good bid prices come in the goal is to move forward using what money is available.

“Don't think that once we get through the first 14, we're through. There's a lot more to get through, and these are just immediate priorities,” he said, displaying a map of the projects.

The sewer capital improvement project plan included 10 projects, mostly along the Neosho River, listed at an estimated cost of $3,409,000 for slip lining.

“The ones we picked here are low lying areas where basic infiltration is a little more likely to get in the line,” McConnaughey said.

During the last few weeks, the Miami Fire Department and Utility Department workers have been flushing hydrants and lines. Kruithof explained the flushing not only cleans out the line but helps to prioritize waterline pressure improvement projects.

“About 40 percent of our ISO rating is dependent on our water supply system,” Kruithof said.

Kruithof said the proposed projects would help improve water and sewer service and will also help improve ISO ratings and firefighting ability within Miami.

The next steps in the plan are to seek funding and to bring the recommendations back to the MSUA in January or later for approval and may be up to a year before any progress begins.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.