Big sewer jobs ahead in Fort Dodge

Major and costly improvements to sewers in Fort Dodge are being contemplated.

One multi-phase job, which may begin this fall, would improve drainage in the city’s retail-heavy east side.

Another package of improvements estimated to cost $25 million would eliminate some, but not all, of the sanitary sewer backups that have flooded dozens of basements during heavy downpours.

The City Council was briefed on both initiatives Monday night.

”We heard a very strong message from the council that this is a priority project,” said Wade Greiman, a project director for Snyder & Associates, of Ankeny. That firm designed the east region storm sewer improvements.

Greiman said the first phase of that work would include the creation of a retention pond on the north side of First Avenue South below Veterans Bridge. He described it as ”a graded depression in the ground to hold water.” Storm sewer improvements would also be completed.

Greiman estimated the cost of the first phase at $2,422,523.

Other storm sewer work in the area would be done in phases over the next few years.

City Engineer Chad Schaeffer said there is $8.8 million committed to various phases of the project, including $1.5 million from the federal government for the future reconstruction of the intersection of First Avenue South and 29th Street.

The drainage work will not begin until the overhead power lines along First Avenue South are buried.

Abby Bottenfield, a spokeswoman for

MidAmerican Energy, said that project is scheduled to start in July.

”This summer

MidAmerican Energy is working with the city to install conduits and duct banks from Veterans Bridge to approximately 850 feet east of 29th Street,” she said. ”Once the underground utilities are installed and activated the overhead utilities will be removed.”

The council directed Greiman to prepare to seek bids for the first phase of the storm sewer work.

An exhaustive analysis of the sanitary sewer system throughout the city that included smoke testing revealed the need for $25 million worth of improvements, Derick Anderson, the northwest Iowa market president for McClure Engineering Co. in Fort Dodge, told the council.

Paying for that work could increase residential sewer bills by $13.40 a month, he said.

Anderson said the city is not under orders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the state Department of Natural Resources to do any of the work.

”You can take time to do this,” he said.

City officials tentatively plan to start some improvements this year with the replacement of sanitary sewers along parts of South 19th Street and Sixth Avenue South. That work is estimated to cost $2.2 million.