Commissioners working to upgrade wastewater plant

LIMA — Allen County Commissioners started a new phase on Thursday toward making much-needed upgrades to water facilities in the county.

Phase II is underway for the Allen County Sanitary Engineering Department. Allen County Commissioners approved $1.5 million to aid in the improvements needed for the department. The first phase was completed several years ago and now the department is making plans to finalize the project. According to Allen County Commissioner Brian Winegardner, commissioners utilized American Rescue Plan Act dollars that were moved to the general funds to help.

“I am happy to see that we are finally moving these funds towards the assistance of the Shawnee wastewater improvements,” said Allen County Commissioner Beth Seibert. “In my mind by lifting up this money to that assistance we are assisting the users.”

Commissioners said the $1.5 million contribution will help all sanitary engineer customers. The contribution lessens the potential debt to the department and helps minimize future rate increases. Allen County Sanitary Engineer Brad Niemeyer weighed in on the project.

“The wastewater treatment plant out on Spencerville Road is old and aging; it is over 30 years old,” said Niemeyer. “We upgraded part of the plant back in 2016. Phase II is to completely demolish the rest of the old plant and replace all of the other things that we left. This will include more treatment capacity, it will also include a new sludge handling building.”

The $1.5 million however does not completely cover the cost. Niemeyer said the project will total around $23 million. At this time, not every dollar is obtained but the department plans to continue to seek funding.

“We started the project not knowing if all of Phase II would be necessary,” said Niemeyer. “We wanted to put in the minimum, evaluate for a few years and then look at some flow modeling. After looking at all the flows that come into the plant we realized Phase II has to happen and we started designing a couple of years ago now and we are nearing the end of design and hoping to start construction in 2024.”

Niemeyer said the project will eliminate the remaining portion of the old treatment plant.

”When we are done in a year or two it will be a brand new updated plant,” said Niemeyer.

Reach Precious Grundy at 567-242-0351.