By PATRICK PFANNER
Willard City Council is poised to improve water quality and safety by way of two major projects costing a collective $3.5 million.
The city should pay off the projects over the next few years, Willard city manager Brian Humphress said.
The Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant will undergo a revamp for most of its facility and equipment, given that the majority of the facility’s pumps and motors are past their expiration date, Humphress said.
“We can’t wait to upgrade the plant from the 1991 standards,” he said. “Rather than replace most of the plant, we’d like to rebuild what we can, because the technology has evolved since it was built.”
The 22-year-old plant has added about 2,500 households to its customer base since it opened. Even with the looming changes, customers won’t have to worry about unclean water coming from their pipes.
“There won’t be any significant setbacks in plant operation,” Humphress said. “We’ll make sure the plant remains open.”
It isn’t cheap to revamp a plant while also keeping it in operation. The project currently has a $3 million price tag, although the city already has about $800,000 on hand.
“Normally, we don’t have that kind of money sitting in our back pocket,” Humphress said. “Luckily we’ve been saving up for this.”
Saving up for major projects, rather than diving immediately into expenses, has been the usual process for the city. Almost $1.4 million in expenses were recently paid off by the city for projects like waterline and fire truck replacements, Humphress said.
“This is a routine process for us,” he said. “As soon as we pay off a project, we get set for the next project.”
The process is underway again, with plans to purchase a new pumper truck for the Willard Fire Department. The department will soon have three of these trucks following this purchase, with the new one — a $430,000 job — replacing a 1960s-era truck, Willard fire chief Joe Reiderman said.
“Age is always part of the problem with these vehicles,” Reiderman said.
The original truck could pump about 750 gallons of water per minute. With the new truck this amount will double, to 1,500 gallons per minute.
“That will allow us to knock a fire down quickly,” Reiderman said.
The fire department covers a 71-square-mile area.
“This will really help us with our coverage area,” Reiderman said. “Everyone will be safer than they were with our previous truck.”