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Town water, sewer systems to see major improvements

PERU The town of Peru will soon begin improvements to its water and sewer systems as part of a $1.2 million capital project. According to Supervisor Donald E. Covel Jr., the town has obtained a bond anticipation note, or BAN, for $1,206,000 to perform the work. The majority of the money, approximately $980,000, will be used to replace outdated water and sewer lines and upgrade facilities and equipment. The other $226,000 will be utilized to secure a small building for the town sewage treatment plant on North Bend Road. The town has faced real challenges for a number of years in both the water and sewer districts, said Covel. One of which was bringing water from the town reservoir at Terry Mountain to the village of Peru, a source that has been used since 1929 when the towns original water lines were installed, he said. The uniqueness was, when this was done, those lines ran through woods where apple orchards are now and since probably the late 1970s, weve had some real challenges when weve had to find where a problem was, Covel explained. While the replacement of the lines is paramount, the supervisor added, improvements are also needed at the water filtration plant on Reservoir Road. When the plant was built 20 years ago, said Covel, there were no provisions in the system to allow crews to be able to change filters or perform other maintenance within the plant without interrupting the water supply to the village. Under the improvements, a valve system would be installed. So, if there is a break or something happens, we can serve the businesses like McDonalds, Crickets, the fire department, with water by using this valve system to bypass it, Covel said. Bid documents are currently being solicited, with the expectation of that phase of the project to be completed by mid- to late-November. The town will also purchase new water and sewer meters to replace outdated and malfunctioning units. Since the town began metering water usage 30 years ago, said Covel, meters have sporadically needed to be replaced, amounting to approximately 15 per year. The new meters will replace all of the roughly 750 meters now monitored by the town and new software will be purchased to facilitate the reading process. Meters are currently read electronically but recorded manually in a book by a water department employee. The figures are then given to clerical staff at the town office to then be entered into a computer in order for a bill to be generated. Theres a tremendous amount of hours to accomplish this goal, said Covel. Theres also a window of error from manual entries processing water usage. The approximately $50,000 upfront cost to purchase the new meters will be divided evenly between the budgets of the water and sewer districts. The town has already budgeted $7,000 for the required software program, said Covel. The meters are expected to be replaced this fall, he said, with the work to be performed by water department employees. [Replacing the meters] will save the town money in regards to having to go out find the bad ones and deal with them every time we read meters, he said. The building that will be secured for the sewage treatment plant will be used to establish drying beds for sewage, said Covel. That will not likely take place until the spring. What this drying bed area is going to do for us is give us the ability to store a lot more of the product, dry it down, and then hire a hauler to take it to the Franklin County landfill. Then, our charges from them will be so much less. The improvements to the water filtration and sewage treatment facilities in addition to the purchasing newer equipment will increase efficiency, said Covel. That increase in efficiency can ultimately mean a savings for the town, he said. One of the biggest challenges we have in the water/sewer district is overtime. I, personally, cant foresee that were going to eliminate any people who are employed with us, but, our focus is to take and cross-train a lot of our people to reduce a lot of overtime, which would bring us a savings in our water rate, Covel explained. We raised the water rates year ago and were still in a position where were not taking in enough [revenue] to maintain the same management structure we have now. The town is expected to pay for the overall project through a 30-year bond which will have an interest rate significantly lower due to the water and sewer projects being combined into one bond totaling over $1 million. That amount qualifies the bond at a lower interest rate, he said. This team effort, supported by both elected officials and employees, will streamline our efficiency and ensure all our users will have quality water, said Covel, who further credited water and sewer department superintendent Greg Timmons for his support of the projects. Our ultimate goal, and my personal goal, is to ensure the water quality to the village.

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