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$5.6 million sewer expansion on horizon for Perham city

With Perham's population projected to grow to 4,157 over the next 20 years; and local industry growth also predicted; the Perham City Council voted Dec. 14 to begin the sewer expansion process.

The $5.6 million expansion, as outlined by Ulteig Engineering, includes a $3.4 million aeration pond.

The pond, combined with about $2 million in improvements of existing equipment and rehabilitation, will increase the city's wastewater treatment capacity from its present 580,000 gallons per day to a million.

Four Perham industries account for more than half of the city's current wastewater flow. The egg processing plant, Barrel O' Fun, Kenny's Candy and Tuffy's Pet Foods average about 330,000 gallons of flow per day. By year 2030, those companies are projected to generate nearly 578,000 gallons per day.

The impact on sewer fees to home and property owners is uncertain at this stage, but a sewer rate study is expected to be conducted by the city.

A previous plan, presented by Ulteig, took a phased approach, with equipment upgrades and re-permitting with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency-intended to buy time until the construction of a new pond.

But Ulteig is now recommending to proceed with the full project. Part of the motivation is that MPCA permitting fees have risen dramatically. The re-permitting process alone could cost the city between $17,000 and $50,000. Consequently, Ulteig recommended proceeding with all facets of the project-with completion likely by late 2011 or 2012.

Nearly 20 million gallons of sludge would be pumped and transported out of the existing ponds under the proposal, which would free up more capacity. The cost to remove the sludge and deposit it at an approved site is estimated at $760,000.

"By incorporating all of the (improvements) into one project, the city would likely see cost savings by not repeatedly paying contract or mobilization fees," stated Ulteig, in its recommendation for the city to preceed with the entire project.