The utilities project involves the installation of a trunk sanitary sewer and water mains to serve land annexed into North Liberty near Dubuque Street and North Liberty Road, including new Liberty High School. The project will cost an estimated $5.2 million dollars.
Planning to bring municipal sewer and water to the east of North Liberty began in 2013, when the Iowa City Community School District announced its plan to open its third comprehensive high school, Liberty High School, near Dubuque Street and North Liberty Road. The school is scheduled to open for the 2017 school year.
The contract was awarded to Langman Contracting on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. The project is expected to be completed by June 1, 2016.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is this project?
The Eastside Utilities Project will provide municipal water and sanitary sewer to coming Liberty High School and other development on North Liberty’s east side.
How much will this cost to construct?
The project will cost an estimated $5.2 million.
When did this project start?
City staff anticipated the need to expand services as the town’s population continued to grow, with updates to its water and waste water plans finalized in June 2013 after months of study and discussion. When the Iowa City Community School District announced plans to open a new high school in North Liberty for the 2017 school year, the city needed to expedite plans to provide municipal services to the area.
Engineers began to assess possible routes for the water main and sanitary sewer in 2013. Preparation included surveying, environmental impact studies and initial discussions with potentially impacted property owners.
The current route was selected in May 2014 and the city began to work with property owners to purchase underground property rights and temporary construction easements and address concerns.
How many property owners are directly affected?
We have worked with 13 property owners to purchase underground property rights for municipal pipes and temporary above-ground access for construction.
What happens when construction is complete?
When construction is complete, the ground will be returned to a usable condition and replanted with appropriate plants, including field crops, trees and grasses.
Why doesn’t the city use land it already owns?
The simple truth is that there is no way to expand utilities service to the site of Liberty High School only using land the City of North Liberty already has access to. Until the school’s area was brought into North Liberty in 2014, the site was outside of city limits. Any route requires the acquisition of easements from private land owners.
Will this project impact threatened or endangered plants or animals?
During field work, Griggs found that no protected plants or protected native prairie grasses will be disturbed by during construction. The firm also looked for endangered or threatened species and found none. Should any protected species be found during construction, we’ll work to mitigate any harm.
What alternatives were considered?
Engineers looked at a number of options to determine what might be able to serve the high school and the surrounding area. After initial study, project engineers did deeper further analysis of two sanitary sewer route options: “Muddy Creek,” which follows the water way, and “Deep Cut,” which follows a more northerly route.
The route along the Muddy Creek basin had a number of advantages including:
- an estimated cost of $1,497,100 less to construct
- avoided extremely rare pipe depth of 50 feet or greater that the Deep Cut route would require
- pipe at standard depths would be safer for workers during construction
- long-term maintenance costs would be lower
- it could serve a larger area
- future connections would be easier and less expensive to make
- less land disturbed during construction
Has the city studied the environmental impact of this project?
Yes. As part of planning and design, environmental specialists did field work in 2014 and prepared reports assessing the potential impact to wetlands and animal habitat, which was found to be minimal. The consultants offered suggestions for further mitigation of potential harm, which were incorporated into the design and construction plans. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and US Army Corps of Engineers have both reviewed these assessments and issued the required permits. When work is complete, the environment will be restored above the infrastructure and replanted with appropriate plants, including field crops, trees and grasses.
What about threatened species and environments?
During environmental assessment, no threatened species were found along the route. and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the US Army Corps of Engineers have issued permits. Never the less, we are following a precautionary action plan to further mitigate any potential harm.
Why don’t developers pay for the infrastructure?
Whenever a property owner makes a new connection to the city’s water or sewer systems, they pay a connection fee based on their project’s construction costs and the area to be served. The Iowa City Community School District and any future developers will pay fees that offset the cost of the public project.
Findings of Fact
Iowa District Court for Johnson County, issued Feb. 10, 2015
State and Federal Environmental Permits
US Army Corps of Engineers construction permit
Iowa Department of Natural Resources National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit
Iowa Department of Natural Resources wastewater construction permit
Iowa Department of Natural Resources floodplain permit
Iowa Department of Natural Resources water construction permit