East Bethel saves by managing decommission project

Waste not, want not has a special meaning for the city of East Bethel. After getting out of the waste water treatment business in 2012, through an agreement that has the Metropolitan Council managing East Bethel’s treatment services, the final chapter of decommissioning the Castle Towers waste water treatment plant is nearly finished.

The city of East Bethel has nearly completed the decommissioning of the Castle Towers waste water treatment facility.Photo courtesy of the city of East Bethel
The city of East Bethel has nearly completed the decommissioning of the Castle Towers waste water treatment facility. Photo courtesy of the city of East Bethel

Last summer, bids were taken by the city for the work needed, mainly the hauling and spreading of biosolids from the waste water holding pond. During the review period, two bids were being considered, one that came in at $550,000 and one that totaled $600,000. After much consideration and discussion, it was decided by the city staff to move forward on their own, taking ownership and becoming a city staffed project management team, including Craig Jochum, city engineer, and Nate Ayshford, public works manager.

The 10-acre site that was Castle Towers would need proper documentation and permitting from the MPCA, which would include pre-work and post-work soil samples, and strict adherence to best practices for this environmental undertaking. There were also windows of opportunity that would have to be fit into the decommissioning schedule, some dealing with weather, some dealing with the removal and distribution of the biosolids that would be dug up, spread and tilled into farmland.

Initial work to thin the holding pond was done in the fall of 2015.

“We were blessed with a good winter and spring; it was much dryer, which was just what we needed, than we had anticipated,” said Jack Davis, city administrator for East Bethel.

Dirtworks Inc. of Isanti was the company hired by East Bethel to haul the biosolids. “They have been a great partner during this project, working within our timelines and schedules,” said Davis. There has been an estimated 2,200 cubic yards removed so far, with just a small amount remaining. One benefit that helped manage the 10-day removal timeline was a short transport of 2 miles to where the biosolids were spread.

With the physical portion of the project winding down, costing estimates were available for reviewing and updating. It was a pleasant announcement for Davis to provide current financial numbers at the most recent City Council meeting.

“We are looking at a decommissioning cost of about $125,000,” said Davis. “By managing the project ourselves, and comparing our costs to the original estimates, we are saving a minimum of approximately $385,000.”

In addition to the decommission savings, the 10-acre site will be available for development after a two-year waiting period, providing additional revenue to the city.