The city of Echo is ready to dive into its new wastewater systems upgrade, but the project will come at a cost.
City manager Diane Berry said engineers estimate the city will need to charge residents between $74 and $75 a month to operate the new system and pay off its debt service. The city council will vote on a resolution raising rates at the city council meeting next Thursday.
The city currently charges residents $47 per month for sewer. Berry will recommend the council raise rates to $60 starting in October and then up to $75 in the spring.
The wastewater the city discharges into the Umatilla River does not meet state standards for biological oxygen demand, and the Department of Environmental Quality has ordered the city to fix the problem by 2019. The city got about 12 years’ worth of extensions from the DEQ before then, but the state agency has warned it will not continue giving extensions indefinitely and failure to comply would result in significant fines.
The city of Stanfield has volunteered to take the recycled water generated by Echo, and Echo is ready to move forward on designing the project.
During the November election, Echo residents will be voting on who will help guide the city through the project. Four of Echo’s seven at-large council seats are up for election, as well as its mayor.
Berry said incumbent Jeanne Hampton was the only person to file for the mayor’s position. On the council, Karl Jensen and Gayle Yoder did not re-file. Tammie Williams, who was appointed to fill a vacant seat earlier this year, has filed, as has incumbent Janie Enright and newcomers Dick Yoder and Chad Ray. The top four vote-getters in the election — including the four on the ballot and any write-in candidates — will receive spots on the council.
In other news, Berry said the Thielsen Street project is nearly complete. The project placed sidewalks along Thielsen Street from Main Street to the bridge before the cemetery, with benches, planters and a bike lane added as well. Landscaping will be added in the spring.