Sioux Falls city council to vote on first loan for wastewater treatment plant

Published: Dec. 2, 2019 at 10:37 PM CST
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As Sioux Falls' population continues to grow, so does the need for treating wastewater. It's been more than a year since the city council voted to approve the $260 million wastewater treatment facility. And now the council will vote again on the first of four loans towards the facility totaling $159 million.

Every time you turn on your faucet at home, the wastewater treatment plant in Sioux Falls goes to work. Right now, the daily capacity for the plant is 21 million gallons; when the upgrades and expansion is complete, the water intake will increase to 31 million.

The city council will pass the four separate loans each year. This year the loan will be more than $41 million, 2020-2021 will be $18.5, 2021-2022 will be $87.5 million, and the final loan for the years of 2022-2023 will be more than $11 million.

"You look at some of these buildings, you know, the pumps are tired, the motor control systems are shot, the electrical conduits being in that environment they need to be upgraded," Mark Cotter, Sioux Falls Public Works director, said.

And so, they're asking the council to approve one of the four loans from the state of South Dakota that will help pay for the project.

"We framed up the project; it will be a multi-year project," Cotter said. "We'll invest almost $160 million into the wastewater plant."

But, with those loans comes an increase in your sewer rates. At last years' city council meeting, city officials said the average household would see monthly increases of two dollars, and it will continue to increase through 2023, where the average homeowner will pay more than six dollars extra a month.

Councilor Theresa Stehly was the only no vote on the passing of the treatment plant upgrades and expansion. She is now looking for answers before deciding her vote for the loans.

"This is going to be a debt that the citizens are going to have to pay back whether you call it a fee or a tax," she said. "It is going to be a heavy burden and if we don't grow like we think we're going to. It is going to be a heavy burden on the users."

But, Cotter isn't concerned about the first loan, not passing.

"There's already been a number of positive votes to get this to this point," he said. "And quite frankly, we need to expand it."

Officials expect to be wrapping up construction on the facility sometime in 2024.

City officials will be giving quarterly updates on the progress of the facility beginning next year.

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