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Environmental report OK’d in Medora: $7.9M wastewater treament facility not fully funded, city engineer says

Press Photo by Mike Hricik Medora city auditor Carla Steffen, left, and Mayor Doug Ellison review paperwork related to the wastewater treatment plant presented by Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services Inc during a meeting at the Medora City Hall on Tuesday.

MEDORA — Medora City Council members unanimously approved moving forward with an environmental report that would pave the way for a new $7.9 million wastewater treatment facility.

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Despite not having funding completely secured yet, Medora city engineer Mike Njos recommended that council approve a contract for the report. An environmental report will last five years and those in charge of the state’s grant funds like to see cities taking initiative for similar projects, Medora Mayor Doug Ellison said.

“If we find (George) Custer’s cousin’s grave out there, we would eliminate that route and go back to the drawing board again. We’d be ahead of the game,” Njos said.

Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services Inc. will introduce the project to the public, develop an environmental report, coordinate efforts with the U.S. Forest Service and provide administrative correspondence for the city.

At a meeting on Tuesday night, a representative from the AE2S said the contract dictates that work go expediently, with the report ideally being ready in December.

The city applied for a $5.6 million grant through the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Grant Program to complete funding for the treatment facility, but is still waiting to hear if it was approved.

The wastewater facility would be located near the Bully Pulpit Golf Course and could be finished by 2016.

Council members also tabled raising sewer rates as a condition attached to a large loan until next month’s meeting. Increased rates would help pay off a $1.7 million State Revolving Fund loan for the facility.

The city charges a minimum of $2 for residential customers. Commercial businesses — like motels and trailer parks — pay between $4 and $50.

“We’ve been getting by with lower rates, which has been a nice benefit for residents being here,” Ellison said.

Council member Denis Joyce said some large motels downtown use up to 500,000 gallons during peak months and are charged $50.

Council members will study multiple sewage payment plans, including a percentage-based system which nearby Beach employs.

Council member John Tczap said he would like to see specific formulas for different proposed plans, as well as what the state would recommend.