ALTUS, OK (KSWO) - Big changes are on the way in Altus as this week, the city took out an $11 million loan.
The loan comes from a state fund for clean water projects. Just over $4 million from the loan will be used for significant upgrades to the town's wastewater treatment facility.The rest of the money will go towards upgrading their water and electric meters. Currently, the meters must be read manually but the new meters will be electronic. That allows them to be monitored and read from City Hall.
Altus Public Works Director Johnny Barron said they have desperately needed the upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant for years so this will be huge in that aspect. As for the new electronic meters, Barron said they'll make things run more efficiently and save the city money.
Barron said one of the biggest projects at the wastewater treatment plant will be putting in a new 90-foot diameter clarifier.
"The water will go to the clarifiers where the solids are settled to the bottom and clear water comes to the top," Barron said. "These clarifiers are showing their age, the main clarifier has been down numerous times for the past year for maintenance problems and that really cripples the plant when the clarifiers are down."
Barron said the 41-year-old plant will also be receiving a disinfectant system.
"That will help kill any pathogens or microorganisms that are remaining in the water before it discharges to the creek. We're also putting in another bar screen which will help filter out the solids so they don't make it to the aeration basins," Barron said.
In addition to the changes at the wastewater plant, Barron said every commercial and residential meter in Altus will be replaced with a new automatic meter.
"That helps the city be more efficient in our monitoring. It also, particularly with electric meters, lets us do remote turnoffs and helps us to monitor problems in the system. Like when there's a power outage, the power company will be able to look at their switches and breakers and know where the problem is instead of having to drive lines in the middle of the night to figure out which poll fell down," Barron said.
Barron said the loan was just approved Monday so they will now they are in the process of putting together a timeline for when all the upgrades will be complete.
The loan is a 20-year loan with just under 2 percent interest which will be paid for over time through the city's general budget. Barron said the water resources board calculates they will save $1.6 million by taking the loan through the state program rather than taking out a traditional loan through a bank.