Humboldt faces $10,000 DNR fine

HUMBOLDT – The Humboldt City Council learned Monday that the city is facing a $10,000 fine from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for delays in renovations to the city’s water plant.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett said the letter from the DNR “blindsided” him.

“We have worked closely with a lot of staff at the DNR to make sure we are in compliance and that we were working as fast as we could to rectify the issues they had with the water plant,” he said.

Work on the $6.4 million project to renovate the water plant is about 90 percent complete, Burnett said.

Burnett said he believes the problem lies with a lack of communication among staff at the DNR.

“The city actually started engineering on the water plant renovation even before the DNR gave us the notice that we needed to become compliant with new restrictions on our water plant,” Burnett said. “They gave us an 18-month time frame that it needed to be completed within, which I think was a ridiculously short period of time to try to complete such an extensive renovation of our water plant.”

The city and the engineer were able to get an extension from the DNR but the work has been delayed partially because the city and engineer wanted to make sure the equipment was working properly.

“What good does it do to fine us if we are working as hard as we can work on the project?” said Mayor Walter Jensen. “We are doing everything we possibly can.”

In other business, the council approved plans and specifications for the Sumner Avenue sidewalk improvements. The project involves improving the sidewalk and installing a retaining wall from the Sumner Avenue bridge up the hill to the southwest to Third Avenue Southwest. A May 5 public hearing and bid letting was set for the project.