City utilities department plans to find, map, store water more effectively

SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s water, sewer and solid waste departments are planning to produce, find, map and store water better in Fiscal Year 2014.

Dan Roberts, utilities manager for the city, said the overall budget for the utilities department is better than it’s been in years past.

“We’re meeting our reserve targets and securing our cash position in the utilities so that we can fund other projects in the future. Our overall operating to revenues is much better than it was last year,” Roberts said. “We’ve been conservative but not to the point of being overly conservative to where it would affect us to make a wrong decision on expenses or capital. We’re in a really good position; I’m really happy with where we’re at financially right now.”

The utilities department has six operating divisions that support two enterprises. The water and sewer enterprise employs 32 people and consists of water treatment, utilities maintenance, wastewater treatment and utility services. The solid waste enterprise employs 27 people and consists of waste collection, recycling and the landfill.

Roberts said overall, budgets for FY2014 are down from the previous year. The water supply and treatment budget went up approximately $40,000 to accommodate certification increases and chemical costs but all other departments — wastewater treatment, utilities maintenance, utility services and capital improvement projects — are down by $10,000 to $2 million from 2013.

The capital improvement budget for water and sewer is set at $2.3 million, down from $4.4 million in FY2013. Capital improvement projects planned for 2013-2014 will include: wastewater treatment plant upgrades, installing the northwest water loop to provide water service to northern Sheridan, repairing the four million gallon water tank at Sheridan Water Treatment Plant, minor upgrades to processes in wastewater treatment and installation of a new dewatering system to process biosolids that are produced in wastewater treatment.

“Our dewatering system works fine, but it’s of age, so we’re going to start design process to replace that and get upgraded equipment,” Roberts said.

The utilities department will contribute money to a few community projects including the Wyoming and Park streets reconstruction, work on Illinois Street and possibly some design work in the North Heights neighborhood, Roberts said.

He added that there are proposed rate increases for 2014. The water rate could increase 1.5 percent, and the sewer rate could increase 2.5 percent. The department will examine revenues and water usage in the fall to determine if rates will need to be increased. Rate increases will be presented to the Sheridan City Council in December and would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

The department is also working on a new utility data viewer that will be available online for contractors and customers to see maps of water and sewer lines and copies of water and sewer permits. Roberts expects the system to go live within two to three weeks.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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