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Falls City's wastewater plan facing delay

FALLS CITY -- The city of Falls City will have to wait a little while longer to approve its Wastewater Master Plan.

March 27, 2013

FALLS CITY -- The city of Falls City will have to wait a little while longer to approve its Wastewater Master Plan.

Turned in by the city's engineer for review on Feb. 28, the plan was rejected as incomplete.

City Administrator Amber Mathiesen said there wasn't much missing, but she didn't want to present the plan to the Falls City Council until it was complete.

Falls City city council logo

"There are several elements required within our grant requirement that were not included in the plan," Mathiesen told the city council at a recent meeting. "I don't want to present you with half a product."

She added the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which is required to give approval to plans, refused to review an incomplete plan.

Mathiesen said Monday that she hasn't yet been able to determine why parts of the plan were missing and was waiting to hear back from City Engineer John McGee. She returned the plan to him to complete in early March.

The city was awarded a $106,000 grant through the Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority (IFA) to prepare the plan in 2011.

With the plan slated for final approval in May, the unanticipated delay puts pressure on the review and approval schedule. Mathiesen said typically the city, DEQ and IFA would review the plans prior to scheduling a public hearing to take comments on the plan.

Mathiesen said that is still possible if the missing components were completed and delivered to the city before the council's April 12 meeting.

She said the majority of the plan was finished on time and most of what is missing from the plan are tables. One key component is among them, however: a list of capital projects and repairs needed on the system and the estimated costs associated with those projects.

In November, as part of the planning process, the city council approved exploring upgrading its current treatment plant with a new lagoon system. If the city were to decide not to pursue that avenue, the missing list includes the city's secondary options for upgrades.

"It's a very key part of the plan," Mathiesen said. "The narrative in the plan indicates that work has been done, but it was not compiled into the list."

Mathiesen said the city may have to file an extension with DEQ if the plan isn't completed soon, but she isn't that concerned -- not yet at least.

"We have some internal deadlines we may miss and have to reschedule, but nothing major yet," she said.

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