City Engineer Mark Statz told the City Council, at its April 8 meeting, USDA Rural Water Development is requesting the city bring in a mobile water plant to prove a planned water treatment facility would effectively solve the problem of radium in the city’s water. Statz quoted the cost to improve the city infrastructure at $17,600.
Statz has negotiated a preliminary agreement with Rural Water Development, obtaining grant money for the city to construct a treatment facility that would treat 300 gallons of water per minute. Statz said that following those discussions, Rural Water Development representatives approached him to request a pilot plant study. Statz described this as “akin to soil borings.” He said the mobile treatment facility would be brought to the proposed site of the treatment plant, and the city would be asked to simulate the treatment process using city water.
“It is a little bit of insurance that you’ve chosen the right size and design of the plant,” Statz said.
He said because Rural Water Development has vetoed a proposed larger capacity facility, it is advisable to run a test. Statz said the city could do this rather quickly and then file the report with the plan that Rural Water Development holds. He said he feels the city might be able to apply the cost of the testing to the project, subsequently bringing down the cost.
Statz said he asked Rural Water Development what would happen if the city could not agree to this. The response to that question from Rural Water Development “was silence on the line,” Statz said. Options are “pretty limited,” Statz said, if the city doesn’t agree to the proposal. He told the council that Rural Water Development could back out of the project.
Mayor Mark Utecht asked for clarification that the results of this pilot won’t change the city’s decision to build a 300-gallon capacity plant, but might influence the size and type of the filter. Council Member Chuck Lucia asked for clarification again as to the reason for the test.
Statz described it as a test to ensure that a 300-gallon capacity plant would in fact remedy the issue of radium in the water.
“It is for the size of the pollutant itself,” Statz said.
The study will address the amount of chemicals and filtering that will be needed. Lucia shook his head. He asked why the city wasn’t told this previously.
Statz acknowledged that Rural Water Development had, in fact, requested a pilot study in a lengthy exchange of memos.
“It was probably something we should have brought forward, but we were optimistic it wouldn’t be needed,” Statz said.
Council Member Jim Ness made a motion to award a contract to do the study. Lucia wanted assurances built in that if the city does the test, Rural Water Development won’t make changes, and also that the money spent on the test would be applied to the project.
The council unanimously authorized spending $17,600 for the test.
In other news
• The city of Stacy plans a pre-construction meeting with Kwik Trip representatives April 23. This is a closed meeting, but Statz said the city should meet with residents who have questions or concerns after the meeting. Kwik Trip has already razed the former Stacy Teen Center to accommodate installation of compressed natural gas pumps. Kwik Trip will now move to widen the road on the north side to allow semitrailers to turn into the gas station. Trucks will exit on the west side.
• There have been preliminary discussions with a developer interested in the Foxtail Woods Plat 5 site. The city anticipates receiving a preliminary plat application. A developer has proposed construction of 10 single-family homes on 10 platted lots. The development lies to the south of Royal Concrete Pipe. Meanwhile, the council released, by unanimous motion, the letter of credit for Foxtail Woods 4.
• The Stacy Planning Commission ruffled a few feathers in updating chapter 92 of the city code with ordinance 2014-4-1. The council discussed the resolution to amend the city code to allow residents to keep chickens in the city. It was reiterated that no roosters are allowed, chickens must be kept “fully enclosed,” and an annual inspection is mandated. Residents will need to obtain a permit and pay a $50 annual fee. Ness, also a Planning Commission member, said, “I still think it’s a bad idea.”
Utecht made a motion to approve the ordinance, and there was silence from his colleagues.
“I believe we should do this,” Utecht said.
Lucia wasn’t as ready as Utecht to approve the ordinance.
“What happens if we don’t approve it?” he asked.
The mayor responded, “We don’t allow chickens then.”
He reminded the council a majority is needed to pass the resolution. The council was missing a member at the meeting, and Utecht said it might be a difficult time to take a vote.
“I think we should at least give them a chance,” Lucia said.
Ness responded, “I’m against it.”
Utecht asked to table the vote until the regular May council meeting when Council Member Michael Carlson would be present; the council agreed with his suggestion.