By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
City of Clinton officials have their sights set on a loan from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that will allow the city to create $700,000 of green infrastructure in sync with another sewer project on the city's north side at no extra cost.
The loan would be available through the Iowa DNR and tacked on to a $7 million state revolving fund loan the city has already secured for a pump station at 25th Avenue North as part of the long-term control plan that is mandated by the Iowa DNR and Environmental Protection Agency.
“We came to the council a few years ago with the long term control plan and all the projects we’re going to have to do and as part of that we know we need to look at alternative funding sources and also storm water quality and not just sanitary storm sewer separation projects,” City Engineer Jason Craft said.
Officials can apply for the competitive loan from the Iowa DNR that will add up to 10 percent in principal of the SRF loan in order for the city to create green infrastructure that will improve water quality. Craft said when the $700,000 of funding is added to the loan, the interest rate is lowered, meaning there is no extra cost to complete the green projects, which in addition to improving water quality will also begin some of the work required for projects further down the line in the long-term control plan.
Along with the 25th Avenue North pumping station, the city plans also to complete sewer separation on 25th Avenue North, although this project will come later. With the pump station and sewer separation, the city aims to lower the combined sewer overflow events that potentially release waste and other pollutants into the river from 25 events per year to a maximum of six. Craft said the city also needs to improve water quality through smaller storms, all of which could be assisted with the green infrastructure.
“What we've tried to do is to brainstorm a project that will not only just construct $700,000 worth of green infrastructure somewhere in town, but we wanted to come up with something that had many many benefits and could achieve some of these goals and could construct some of these projects that we know we're going to have to construct anyway,” Craft said.
The green infrastructure includes permeable brick streets, parking spaces and crosswalks, green alleys and bio-retention cells. The latter requires digging up 3 to 4 feet of earth, putting in a sand filtration layers and planting plants that will help treat storm water before it is conveyed into a storm sewer system and then into the river.
“We looked into some of the best green infrastructure practices that we could think of to help achieve these goals and help us have a favorable chance at getting the $700,000 sponsored project that we desire,” Craft said.
These projects would also allow the city to create a smaller pump station, create a less expensive storm sewer and delay the sewer separation at 25th Avenue North.
Craft prepared a map for the City Services Committee to examine Wednesday that initially places these projects along Main Avenue from Garfield to Second Street, but will be open for public input. If the projects were completed there, it would essentially create a streetscape for Lyons and Main Avenue, Craft said.
“It's a win, win,” Interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser said. “Given that the actual loan is in that area, it makes sense.”
The City Services Committee supported the project, moving it to the Committee of the Whole for the entire council to discuss. If the City Council chooses to pursue the project and the loan is awarded, construction of the green infrastructure could be as soon as the spring of 2014.