Britton SD Sewer Project

October 4th, 2012
Already digging deeper to pay their sewer bills than they were just a couple of months ago, Britton residents likely will soon be asked to pay more.

The majority of sanitary sewer lines in the Marshall County seat need to be replaced, city officials told Gov. Dennis Daugaard during meetings Wednesday.

Britton was South Dakota's Capital for a Day, and the sewer system project was a prime topic that Daugaard and other state officials heard about during their daylong visit.

Mayor David Kleinberg said some sewer-improvement work has already been done. With the help of a $1.02 million loan from the state, Britton has already replaced the system's main lift station pumps, put an emergency power system near the pumps, repaired other lift stations and ran a pipe from the lift station to the lagoon. The loan also paid for the cost of running a camera through the sewer lines to see what type of repairs were needed. To help pay for that work, the city recently increased the sewer rate from $18 per month to $24 a month per home, apartment or business.

Work to replace about 60 percent of the wastewater lines in town — both the main pipes and those that go from homes and businesses to the main lines — will cost an estimated $5.7 million, city officials said. That, Kleinberg said, will likely mean the sewer rate will soon increase to $45 per month.

Dave Templeton, with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the state can offer grant money and another low-interest loan, but only if the town again increases its sewer rates.

The higher rates would almost certainly net Britton an $800,000 grant and a $3.6 million low-interest loan, Daugaard said during a roundtable discussion at the Britton school Wednesday afternoon.

Britton residents understand that the increase is needed, Kleinberg said. Footing the bill is better than introducing communicable diseases to the town through the old pipes, he said. The old, clay pipes that need replacing are about 130 years old, the mayor said. Those pipes would be replaced with durable plastic pipes that are already in place in some parts of the town.

A couple of years ago, the sewer system caused damage in town during a big storm, Kleinberg said.

Tom Farber, a Britton businessman, said the increased rates will mean higher rent for people who live in apartments in town because the expense will be passed along. But, Kleinberg said, that's the lesser of two evils.

"We really don't have any choice," Kleinberg said. "We have to get this done, and we have to get it done right."

He would like to see the pipe replacement work begin next spring. And he'd like the work to be done all at once, though he's not certain the city will be able to afford that. Britton will seek federal money from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program. Kleinberg also mentioned the prospect of increasing the city's sales tax by a penny or even two.

The good news, Kleinberg said, is that Helms & Associates, the Aberdeen-based engineering firm that figured the pipe-replacement cost, is usually generous with its estimates. In other words, the actual cost could be considerably less than $5.7 million.

City officials and leaders at the meeting lamented that the sewer rates haven't increased gradually through the years, so the city would have more reserve funds for the now-needed work


American News