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Eagle Mountain is willing to pay an extra $2 million to double the capacity of its new sewer system.

Unable to handle an ongoing population boom with its current facility, the city had planned to build a sewer system that would handle 600,000 gallons per day. But studies showed the rapid growth would quickly overwhelm that facility as well, so the City Council voted 4-1 to double the size of the incoming system to 1.2 million gallons.

Councilman David Blackburn, the sole dissenting vote during a meeting earlier this week, said he was upset with the process. Blackburn wanted more studies on the upgrade and said that too much of the process occurred behind closed doors.

"We had an extensive review and analysis of treatment options before we decided on the original treatment process," he said. "But in the last 30 days, we increased the project by 30 percent and doubled the capacity without that same type of review.

"We need a long-term plan, and I don't think we have that."

Blackburn added that the city acted too slowly in a "stop-and-go emergency process" to get going on the facility. That slowdown, he said, was due, in part, to a high turnover rate among the city staff.

"Two years ago, the council was told, 'You have to act now.' But two years later, we haven't progressed much farther in the process," Blackburn said. "It's like saying, 'Your house is on fire, but stay there.' "

A city news release said, based on current population projections, that the 600,000-gallon facility would reach capacity just a few years after its expected May 2009 completion date. However, a 1.2 million gallon system should last 20 years, based on those growth rates.

The expansion will require only a 30 percent price hike, increasing the cost from $6.6 million to $8.5 million, according to the city.

"This is a proactive step on the part of the city and one the state encourages," said Mayor Don Richardson. "Building in our city center continues to boom, and this step will prepare us for future growth."

Since the city is already near capacity at its current facility, it plans to modify the system so it can handle waste while the new facility is being built.

What's next

Eagle Mountain is scheduled to begin construction on its new sewer facility in spring 2008. Work could be completed by May 2009.