By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Though contractors are still laying the groundwork, Salisbury-Rowan Utilities says its $35 million project to upgrade its water and wastewater treatment facilities are on schedule.

In January, Salisbury City Council members passed a measure to update Salisbury-Rowan Utilities infrastructure and refinance outstanding debt. The Local Government Commission then granted the city a $35 million bond, with $10 million of that used for refinancing debt.

One project entails a $7.22 million contract with Dellinger, Inc., to make improvements at the water treatment plant, located near downtown Salisbury. Improvements there will include a new building, centrifuge installation and replacement filtration, which will add a new solids handling system and allow SRU staff to “dewater” onsite.

Another project includes a revamp of the Grant Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility. The city awarded Adams-Robinson Enterprises, Inc., with a $26.84 million contract to move the facility out of the 100-year floodplain it currently sits below. Moving the facility above the floodplain minimizes the risk of those facilities flooding during inclement weather events or disasters, said SRU Assistant Utilities Director Jason Wilson.

Eventually, the old facility will be demolished, he added.

The project at the Grant Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility also includes the installation of a new influent pump station and a grit removal system. Soon, contractors will begin constructing a metal building for those purposes. The building will allow the residual wastewater stream to be redirected to a centrifuge that will “spin that out of the water,” Wilson said. Ultimately, technology will be added to lower nutrient levels.

Both contracts are scheduled for 24 months, and work on the projects began this summer. Wilson said the projects are on schedule to be completed by the summer of 2022.

Wilson said contractors are currently doing a lot of the foundational work and are putting in equipment they’ll build upon as the project progresses. He said the process has been slow because of how deep they must excavate to move the facility out of the 100-year floodplain.

Wilson said city staff, SRU staff, city engineers and the contractors meet monthly to discuss the progress of the project.

“It’s on track,” he said, adding that the city has been pleased with the two contractors hired for the project.

Additionally, the $10 million dedicated to refinancing debt is for two previous revenue bonds received in 2009 and 2010. The 2009 bond matures in 2025, while the 2010 bond matures in 2027.

Refinancing those two bonds saves the city about $1 million, said Salisbury Finance Director Shannon Moore. Previously, the 2009 bond had an interest rate of 4.14%, while the 2010 bond had various rates. Moore said with what remained on the 2010 bond this year prior to financing, it yielded about 5% in interest.

Now, the new rate with the refinanced debt is 3.09%, which will mature in 2045.

Overall, Moore said, refinancing was worth the issuance cost because the savings from refinancing the old debt helped to lessen the impact of the new debt issued this year.

“It was definitely worth it to our rate payers,” she said.

The savings from the refinancing will be reflected in the city’s Utilities Fund.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.



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