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Columbia City awards $688k bid for sewer improvements

Officials: Project will improve system capacity, reduce rainwater inflow

Columbia City will be spending about $687,600 to upgrade its sewer system, after the the City Council of Columbia City voted Thursday evening, July 16, to award a contract for the project to a Marylhurst-based contractor.

Landis & Landis Construction, LLC, was one of two bidders on the project, according to Leahnette Rivers, Columbia City’s city administrator and recorder. The company submitted the lower bid of the two.

The project is intended to upgrade the city’s main pump station and remove 17 steel septic tanks in the northwest part of the city from service, according to Columbia City Public Works Superintendent Micah Rogers.

About 25 manholes and 2,000 feet of sewer main will also be addressed, with the manholes being lined with new grout to reduce the flow of groundwater into the sewer system and the sewer main being expanded to accommodate the direct flow of sewage from the northwest portion of the city where the septic tanks are currently located.

Columbia City has faced problems from the sewer system being backed up during particularly heavy rainstorms, Rogers said.

“We’ve got some I&I, which is inflow and infiltration issues, of rainwater making it into the system during heavy rain events,” he explained.

That backup can cause localized flooding. But it also hits the city in the checkbook. Columbia City pumps its wastewater to neighboring St. Helens for treatment, Rogers noted.

“When we’re getting thousands of gallons of rainwater into our sewer system, that’s increasing the amount we’re having to pay the city of St. Helens to basically treat rainwater,” he said, adding, “If we can address these infiltration issues further ... it’s going to save the city money in the long run not having to treat the rainwater.”

The capacity of Columbia City’s pump station will be increased to handle peak flows, Rogers said.

The project will also connect 16 households that currently have aging steel septic tanks, which Rogers said wear out and develop leaks faster than concrete tanks, to the city’s sewer system. A 17th steel tank will be replaced with a concrete tank.

Rogers said Columbia City has close to 50 steel septic tanks, and eventually, the hope is to remove or replace all of them.

“This is just the first phase in getting rid of those,” said Rogers.

Work is expected to begin later this summer, concluding sometime in late winter or early spring next year.

Any disruptions to service will likely be minor, Rogers said.