The city of Tyler will borrow about $21 million this year to pay for sewer system work required by the federal government.
The work will include rehabilitating manholes, inspecting sewer lines, replacing pipe, and starting the process of rerouting sewer lines if needed.
The bulk of the work so far has been happening in the downtown and northern parts of Tyler. Starting in 2020, the city has planned work in one basin in the northwestern part of the city and another between Loop 323 and West Grande Boulevard. Jimmie Johnson, the utilities director for the city of Tyler, said the upcoming year will be the fourth in a 10-year process. All the work is mandated by a 2017 settlement the city reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The characteristics of the sewer won’t change,” Johnson said. “It’s still sewer. However, some of the areas that may have been bottlenecked because the line is too small will no longer have those constraints.”
Johnson said he’s optimistic about the work. He said the city plans to manage its contracts better than it did in previous years. Last year, the city had seven separate contracts, he said. This year, the city plans to have a master contract governing the work.
“We are doing some of those construction projects now,” Johnson said. “When those (additional) construction projects are underway we’re gong to ask the citizens for their patience while we make those timely repairs.”
The Tyler City Council voted on Wednesday to issue $20,845,166 in bonds to pay for this year’s projects. The bonds will be paid back through revenue from the regulatory compliance fee on consumers’ water bills.
This won’t be the last bond package issued to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency settlement. From 2020 through 2025, the city is projecting to issue bond packages between $26 million and $32 million each year.
“We have pipes in the ground in our sewer system that are over 100 years old that zero reconstruction, fairly level maintenance has occurred in 100 years,” Mayor Martin Heines said of the current sewer system at the Wednesday meeting.
“And so those are the basins that we’re currently working in in this community to bring that to good quality standards,” Heines said. “So there is a culmination of 100 years worth of work that we are jumping into due to the EPA consent decree.”
Heines said the cost of the actual work has been lower than what has been budgeted. He asked Johnson if that could be expected in the future. Johnson said there are still too many unknowns.
Keidric Trimble, the chief financial officer, said the bonds will have a term of 30 years and an estimated interest rate of 3.15 percent. He said that could be higher or lower by the time the bonds are issued.
The City Council plans to vote to issue the bonds at a meeting Oct. 8.
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