Millville may join Nibley in replacing septic tank system
By Bryce Petersen
With Nibley, Millville's neighbor to the south, ready to put a new wastewater facility plan out to bid by mid-June, Johnson said that this may be the time.
"It gives us the opportunity," Johnson said. "Say, 10 years from now, we decide to go sewer, we'd have to dig a line all the way to Logan."
Millville City will hold a public meeting to inform citizens of the proposal on April 6 at 8 p.m. in the Millville Elementary auditorium. Johnson said residents will be encouraged to attend and express their opinion on the proposal to build a sewer system in Millville, and connect it, via a pump house owned jointly by Millville and Nibley, to Logan City's sewer system.
Johnson said that of the 50 people in attendance at the first public meeting, held in August of 1999, almost all of them supported the theory of converting to a sewer system.
"We kind of took a straw poll," Johnson said. "And most everybody raised their hand (in support)."
Larry Anhder, Nibley city recorder, said that it was just the right time for Nibley to go to a sewer.
"We're the largest city in the state that does not have a sewer," he said.
Nibley has the approval of the state and its sewer system should be awarded to a contractor by the end of July, he said. Nibley's City Council is proceeding on the assumption that Millville is going in on a mutual pump house and contributing to the "upsize" of sewer lines that will hold both cities' wastewater indefinitely, Anhder said.
Johnson said that it is "a 90 percent certainty" that Millville's participation in the upsize will take place. He said that Millville has the papers and is prepared to sign, but he wants to get a better feeling of public support before going ahead.
If Millville joins with Nibley in constructing the pump house and enlarging the pipes to allow room for wastewater from both, it would save about $400,000 in construction costs, according to a preliminary proposal of the Millville City Wastewater Facility Plan, prepared by Sunrise Engineering, Inc.
Brian Davis, a civil engineer at Sunrise, said that he is recommending that Millville move ahead with this project to secure the substantial savings that would be realized by joining Nibley. He said that Millville does not need to approve the sewer plan before proceeding with the upsize. If the pipes were enlarged without an immediate conversion to sewer, Davis said, Millville could connect easily at a later date.
Johnson said that if Millville pays for the enlargement of the pipes, which will cost about $781,000, the logical thing to do would be to put in a sewer system at the same time.
A benefit of going ahead immediately with the project, Johnson said, is that if they don't lock it in by approving the plan, the cost to citizens will continue to rise. In 1999, the maximum cost of the bond per household would have been $42. If the wastewater facility's cost was locked in today, because of increases in the incomes of residents, the cost would be $46 per month, Johnson said. He said the figure could be lower if the final proposal's cost is lower, but that is as high as it would go.
The $46 monthly fee is based on the amount that the state has designated as reasonable for citizens of Millville to contribute to the sewer system, Davis said. The figure is reached by calculating 1.4% of the median annual income in Millville and dividing it over the 12 months in the year. Any extra cost would be picked up by the state in the form of grants, he said.
Anhder said that Nibley residents will be paying about $43 for the next 20-plus years. The state added another $800,000 in grants.
Davis said that if Millville proceeds with the sewer system immediately, the sewer and the monthly fee charged to Millville residents will not go up. The cost of the upsize would be $2 per resident per month if Millville did not go to sewer.
Residents would also be required to connect their homes to the sewer, according to the preliminary proposal. Davis said this could be accomplished simply by the landowner with gravity doing all the work once the pipes were in.
The preliminary proposal estimates the total cost of the project at about $4.1 million, but Davis said that is a rough estimate. If the estimates are close, the state loan would pay for all or most of the project, with little or no additional grant money needed.
Johnson said the only way payments for the sewer would increase would be if Logan City raised their portion of the bill. He said that only about $6 of the $46 would go to Logan, and an additional increase would be minimal.
"We're just a small user," he said. "So it wouldn't be a big increase."
Along with the option of connecting with Logan, the city looked into either connecting to Hyrum City's system or building their own. Johnson said connecting with Logan was "by far" the cheapest option with or without Nibley. But when Nibley finalized their plan of connecting with Logan the other alternative were no longer feasible.
Anhder said that Nibley's decision was "purely financial." He said a connection to Logan's sewer system was about two-thirds of the cost of joining with Hyrum and less than half the cost of getting their own.
Johnson said the reason it would be nice for Millville to have its own sewer system is that it would have more control over how it was run. The selected plan relegates Millville to the role of a customer of Logan. Johnson said the city would have little input on the system.
"Basically, they tell us what to pay and we pay it," he said.
Johnson said Millville's current wastewater disposal system consists of a septic tank at each private residence. The sewage is deposited into a vault and the liquid drains out holes in the top. It moves into perforated pipe on top of gravel and river rock. The wastewater then percolates down through the rock, being cleaned as it goes.
"By the time it gets down to the aquifer, it's supposed to be clean," he said.
But that isn't always how it works, he said.
Anhder said that groundwater contamination was a big consideration when Nibley decided to put in a sewer. With population growing rapidly, the council felt it was the environmentally responsible thing to do.
"The septic tanks are putting more and more into the ground," Anhder