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Published June 21, 2011, 09:40 PM

EGF Council Moves Forward with Wastewater Interconnect, Veto Possible

The East Grand Forks City Council has decided to move ahead with design preparations for the wastewater interconnect system with Grand Forks. But it didn't come without some debate. Some council members say the project is moving too fast.

The East Grand Forks City Council has decided to move ahead with design preparations for the wastewater interconnect system with Grand Forks.

But it didn't come without some debate. Some council members say the project is moving too fast.

We're still in the very early stages of this project that will connect East Grand Forks to Grand Forks wastewater treatment plant a few years from now. But some council members say they need more information.

Members of the East Grand Forks City Council think there's a disconnect when it comes to the wastewater interconnect project with Grand Forks.

"Anybody that is foolish enough to take and proceed in a project like this isn't buying a five dollar hamburger. To proceed like this is treading on dangerous ground," council member Henry Tweten said.

Tweten was one of two council members nervous about moving forward with the design process of the interconnect.

In a five to two vote, the council committed up to $60,000 to begin design plans to connect East Grand Forks to Grand Forks' wastewater treatment plant. Capital improvements to make the connection are estimated to cost East Grand Forks around $9 million.

Without a firm agreement, some members wanted to wait.

"We're horsing around. We want to know what we're buying into and Grand Forks should know what they are buying into," Tweten said.

Terms of the agreement, including the cost for capital improvements and cost rates for customers were outlined in a document sent to the council, but not fully detailed.

"We've looked at the water, now we're sticking our big toe in it. We're not neck-deep yet. This is just getting the ball rolling," council member Marc DeMers said.

And the ball has been rolling. The Grand Forks City Council recently voted to begin filling in the blanks. A rep for the project, Todd Feland, told WDAZ over the phone this will lead to meetings between the two cities to shape the agreement.

He says a final agreement could take up to eight weeks. Mike Pokrzywinski says waiting to begin design work could jeopardize the project.

"If you want to wait for a contract to be finalized, you're going to have to wait until September before we can start designing this project. You know how much that's going to cost?" Pokrzywinski said.

East Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss says he is considering vetoing the project because of the lack of the full agreement.

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