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Sewer expansion banks on Perham's growth

City officials in Perham are betting on continued growth in the next two decades, defying the trend for most rural Minnesota communities.

The Perham City Council has approved a $5.6 million expansion of its sewer system, including a $3.4 million aeration pond.

City officials say the expansion is necessary because Perham's population is projected to grow to 4,157 over the next 20 years, and they expect their industrial base to grow as well.

The pond, combined with about $2 million in improvements of existing equipment and rehabilitation, will increase the city's wastewater treatment capacity from its present 580,000 gallons per day to a million.

The impact on sewer fees to home and property owners is uncertain at this stage, but a sewer rate study is expected to be conducted by the city.

The project is slated to be completed by late 2011 or 2012.

In addition to expanding the system, the city also will pump nearly 20 million gallons of sludge out of its existing ponds to create more storage capacity. The cost to remove the sludge and deposit it at an approved site is estimated at $760,000.