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Loan approved for Oregon wastewater plant

Commissioner Bob Rees is all smiles as Oregon Mayor Tom Stone signs paperwork for a IEPA loan to upgrade the city's wastewater treatment plant. The city council held a special meeting Monday afternoon to officially sign the loan papers. Photo by Earleen Hinton
Commissioner Bob Rees is all smiles as Oregon Mayor Tom Stone signs paperwork for a IEPA loan to upgrade the city's wastewater treatment plant. The city council held a special meeting Monday afternoon to officially sign the loan papers. Photo by Earleen Hinton

It’s official—the City of Oregon has a $3.6 million loan to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant.

“We couldn’t be happier,” said Commissioner Bob Rees Monday. “We’ve been working on this for almost 6 years.”

The Oregon City Council held a special meeting Monday to approve the loan agreement, award a contract for the improvements, and authorize loan disbursements for design engineering costs.

Officials had been waiting to receive an official letter from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to begin the project.

Commissioners had previously approved bids for the work in August making Monday’s meeting short and sweet.

“This is going to be a very good thing for Oregon,” said Rees who has spearheaded the project. “We’re basically ending up with a new sewer plant and because of this loan we won’t have to raise the rates.”

Last month the council, approved Sjostrom & Sons’ bid of $3,451,340 to construct the plant. Monday, the council awarded the Rockford company the work officially.

The original loan authorization amount approved by the council earlier this year was $5.6 million, but construction estimates came in close to $1 million less than originally expected.

The project will be funded through the 20-year, zero interest loan with $1,820,227 coming from Water Pollution Control Loan Program and $1,820,227 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The city will also receive grant and federal stimulus money—$477,000 as a Stag Grant and $910,113 in ARRA stimulus forgiveness, Rees said.

Eight firms bid on the project ranging from Sjostrom ‘s low bid of $3,452,340 to the highest bid of $4,946,914.

Under the new design plan, the 50-year-old sewer plant will be converted into a cannibal system plant where bacteria “eat” each other getting ride of up to 80 percent of sludge. Byron has been using a cannibal system plant for several years.

The new system will include a bio-solids destruction process that will eliminate 80 percent of the city’s processed sludge.

Sludge is the material left after wastewater, including sewage, is processed through the plant. The new plant will reduce sludge removal costs, eliminate odors, and meet environmental standards, Rees said.

The new plant will be located at the same location where the current plant is at 13 Gale St., one block west of the Rock River below the Oregon dam.

The new system will consolidate the city’s water and wastewater monitoring system will be operate with the latest electronic technology, Rees said.

Rees said concrete will be poured for the project soon. The project is expected to be completed in 2010.