New storm rate structure draws near

Two sewer projects the city has had in the works are seeing headway.

The storm and sanitary sewer projects were up for discussion at the Marshalltown City Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, and both projects will see the council vote on them in the upcoming weeks.

Sanitary sewers north of Main Street and east of Third Avenue will be lined with resin-coated fiberglass.

“We get a lot of clean water in the sewers the sewage doesn’t leak out, but the clean water leaks in,” said Lynn Couch, Public Works director.

The coating prevents ground water from infiltrating the sewers, Couch said. When clean water leaks into the storm sewer system, it overburdens the system and it has to be pumped out.

An Iowa Department of Natural Resources consent order mandates upgrading the sanitary sewer system.

A rate study for the storm sewers by consulting firm Stanley is complete, and the council will move forward with approving the new rates in the upcoming weeks.

The new rate structure will be a tiered system, charging commercial and industrial properties higher rates since they contribute more runoff to the system because of their higher percent of impervious surface. However, if businesses can prove they retain a portion their runoff, they would be eligible for credits ranging from 10 to 65 percent.

Residential properties will increase only slightly, from the current $2.16 to $3. New rates for the storm sewers will go into effect July 1.

Couch said the new rate structure allows the city to comply with a DNR permit that enables the city to continue operating within the necessary parameters.

“The new rates will allow us to be more proactive,” Couch said.

He also told the council Monday that the city will continue to subsidize the utility with the sanitary sewer utility until it becomes more viable.

Lori Stansberry, finance director, said the utility is already running a $75,000 deficit as of Jan. 31.

The council will vote on the new rates and the work to be done on the sanitary sewers at its next three meetings. A public hearing for the sanitary sewer project will be April 22; the council will order construction March 25.