Ogden Canyon Spillway 01

The Ogden City Water Treatment Plant at the top of Ogden Canyon on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.

OGDEN — The Ogden City administration wants the City Council to approve a measure that would result in the city issuing approximately $43 million in bonds to pay for a host of water and sewer projects.

According to council documents, water, sanitary and storm sewer systems all have a significant backlog in infrastructure maintenance and replacement work. Some of Ogden’s water pipes are more then 90-years-old, but the city’s goal is to replace pipes after just 80 years of service. The city figures the 80-year benchmark will, for the most part, stop major failures within the system and prevent the population from having to deal with any significant interruptions in utility service.

So the administration is recommending the city issue bonds of about $20 million for water utility projects, $15 million for sanitary sewer projects, and $7.5 million for storm sewer work. The proposal also includes refunding storm sewer bonds from 2012 and 2013. Refunding the bonds essentially involves issuing a new bond to pay off an old one, at lower interest rates.

Laura Lewis, of Lewis, Young, Robertson & Burningham, the city’s consultant on the plan, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made the bond market very erratic over the past month. But she said it’s still a good time to issue bonds, particularly with current 0% interest rates, and the city has several critical infrastructure projects that need to be paid for. Bonding helped the city complete a total overhaul of its water treatment plant a few years ago and Lewis pointed to that project as one where the city potentially avoided disaster by finishing the work when it did.

“Your water treatment plant was in crisis several years ago, or nearing that,” she said. “I don’t know what would have happened during (last month’s 5.7-magnitude) earthquake.”

Consultant Fred Philpot said more than 40 potential projects have been identified that could be undertaken if the bonds are issued.

Janene Eller-Smith, council executive director, said utility rate increases for Ogden residents were also considered, but the administration ultimately decided against it. Inflationary increases are already built in to the city’s utility plan.

Lewis said the inflationary increases to rates, along with the bonds, would be enough to pay for the needed projects, but it is anticipated that utility rate increases will be needed in future years.

Eller-Smith said a public hearing on the bond issuance will likely take place April 28.

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