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Verndale sewer overhaul’s final phase planned for next year

Next year, an extensive sewer replacement and repair project in the city of Verndale will finally come to a close with the last section of pipe being put in place.

Originally begun in 2005, the project was done neighborhood by neighborhood as the city could find funding for it. If enough money is obtained for this round of renovation, this epic sewer saga will see its final chapter as the largest portion of old sewer so far is either fixed or replaced by a modern line next year. City officials hope it will put an end to problems plaguing the old system.

“This isn’t a want, it’s a need,” said City Council Member Ardith Carr. “I think it’s gotten to the point where they just need to be replaced in order to be in compliance (with regulations).”

According to documents provided by the Verndale City Clerk, streets to be affected by the project include portions of North and Southwest Brown Street, North Farwell Street and Southwest Thompson Street.

Kevin Wernberg, a civil engineering consultant assisting the city with planning, said the last round of construction was planned to start as early as possible in 2014 and to finish about a year later. Wernberg said the older parts of the sewer system yet to be replaced date back to the 1960s and are failing due to cracks and tree roots invading the network.

“It’s a 1960s-vein clay pipe system, which is susceptible to roots actually growing in and clogging up the pipes,” Wernberg said. “As they’re seeking water, they go right into the sewer pipes.” 

The project has a rough cost estimate of approximately two million dollars, but Wernberg cautioned that the number should be taken with a grain of salt since the city was still waiting to find out how much will be funded by government grants from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Rural Development. Receiving the grants will deduct money from the two million dollar figure, he said.

Ludovissie said the majority of the cost would be covered by grants. However, Wernberg said that city policy calls for residents connected to the particular line replaced to be assessed one third of the total cost to the city, including the portion covered by grants. City Clerk Barbara Holmes said the policy also calls for the assessments to be spread out over a period of twenty years in order to minimize financial impact on those assessed as much as possible.