Faribault Water Works

Construction of a new water treatment plant, behind the old Water Works building, will improve city water, removing iron and manganese, is scheduled to begin next month. A low-interest $10.2 million loan is helping pay for the project. (Suzanne Rook/Faribault Daily News)

Construction on a new water treatment plant is expected to begin next month after the Faribault City Council on Tuesday accepted a $10.2 million low-interest loan and approved bids for the plant, which will take two years to complete.

When finished, the plant will remove iron and manganese from the municipal water supply.

“We’re looking to improve water quality for local residents,” said Travis Block, Faribault’s public works director.

While the levels of iron and manganese in the water are not health concerns, Block said they do affect the aesthetics and taste of the water. Water with iron can be rusty, and stain clothes and piping, as well as have a metallic taste. Manganese can cause spotting and stains in appliances as well as deposits in plumbing and fixtures.

The 20-year loan, from the state’s Public Facilities Authority, carries a 1 percent interest rate. That’s expected to save the city over $1.06 million compared to costs for a typical market-rate loan. The loan will be repaid using water availability charges, and city water customers’ base and consumption charges. Water rates are scheduled to continue to increase in Faribault for the next two years.

“Water projects like these help ensure that current and future water infrastructure needs are being met,” said Steve Grove, Public Facilities Authority chair and commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “The PFA is a critical part developing communities for future business growth.”

The pressure filter treatment plant has been up for discussion since 2016, when it was first brought up during the 2017 budget process. The plant will be located on the north end of a 6-acre site at 824 Seventh St. NW with an access point on Eighth Avenue.

With the PFA loan accepted, bids were also discussed at the council meeting Tuesday.

Four bids were offered by construction companies to complete the project. Each bid was below the engineer’s estimate of $11 million.

With the lowest bid of $9.72 million, the Rice Lake Construction Group from Deerwood, Minnesota was selected by the council to build the water treatment plant.

Construction is due to begin June 17. Phase one is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2020 and phases two and three by Jan. 31, 2021. The water treatment plant is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2021.

Reporter Renata Erickson can be reached at 507-333-3129. Follow her on Twitter @FDNrenata.

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