SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council has directed Utilities Manager Dan Roberts to proceed with a master plan for the sewerage system using funds previously earmarked for other projects.
The project, which is expected to cost around $271,000, will involve updating the master plan for the first time since 2008. An updated plan is especially important as the city will need to increase plant capacity by 2029, Roberts said.
The current plan has no vision on how to increase this capacity. A new wastewater treatment system master plan will define what these capacity upgrades will need to be and how much they will cost so that the city can find the appropriate financing for the project.
“Right now the plans don’t give us that vision,” Roberts said. “Our 2008 Wastewater System Master Plan does not describe how we will develop this new capacity for our system. So we have to create this new vision.
The treatment plant is currently designed to treat up to 4.4 million gallons of wastewater per day. Based on current wastewater use and the city’s master plan, the city is expected to reach that capacity by 2042, Roberts told council during a Feb. 23 meeting.
A good rule of thumb is to begin construction on the next phase of a project once the city has reached 85% capacity — or 3.52 million gallons — at the current facility, Roberts said. At the current rate of growth, the current wastewater treatment plant is expected to reach 85% capacity by 2029.
Although no funds are set aside for the project in the current year budget, unused funds from other projects may be used, including $125,000 for a sewage pump update installation costs and $140,000 reserved for the upgrade of the electrical system.
Roberts said the raw sewage pump project was delayed when cost estimates were significantly higher than expected. The project could easily be postponed for several years without any impact on the plant’s pumping capacity, Roberts said.
“We solicited bids for this project and it was three times higher (than expected) at nearly half a million dollars,” Roberts said. “…We need to go back and reassess how to do this…This project doesn’t have a lot of clear direction at this point, so the money is just going to sit there and not be spent. “
Likewise, electrical work could be delayed until proposed plant upgrades in 2029, Roberts said.
“We need to upgrade this service, but if we’re going to be doing major plant upgrades in five to 10 years, now is a great time to do something like this,” Roberts said.
Mayor Rich Bridger and City Council gave Roberts permission to proceed with the project and spend the previously earmarked dollars.
“It would be in the city’s best interest to go down that road and do it as soon as possible,” Bridger said.
Councilor Shawn Day agreed.
“This plan seems pretty necessary to me, and I think everyone would feel better about having an updated plan,” Day said.
To engage a consultant to develop a new sewage system master plan, city staff have already solicited proposals from consulting engineers through the city’s RFP process from the end of December 2021. Staff received proposals from Gillette’s HDR, Inc., Sheridan’s Morrison-Maierle and DOWL with the selection committee unanimously agreeing to hire DOWL. The city council will still have to award the contract to DOWL at an upcoming meeting, Roberts said.