One of the aspects of local government that is so interesting is the variety. Depending on the city, municipal government can provide services that range from public safety, infrastructure, parks and recreation, and many others. The City of Guthrie provides a long list of services that includes, police, fire, ambulance, street maintenance, water treatment, sewage treatment, mowing, park maintenance, cemetery maintenance, and all of the internal services that it takes to provide support for those services such as human resource management, purchasing, vehicle maintenance, building services, and finance.
Some of the services that the City provides are very visible. When the City puts new asphalt on a road or installs a fountain in the park, people notice. Whenever there is a house fire and the Guthrie Fire Department responds, people gather around and watch the local heroes risk their lives in order to protect life and property. City employees are always proud when their work can be seen or when a project they complete has a visibly positive impact on the community that they serve. Many times, however; the projects and the work go unnoticed because it is really not that exciting.
This is the case with one of the City’s largest projects in recent history, the CMOM project. In 2010, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) issued a consent order to the City of Guthrie. A consent order is essentially a correction plan an entity must follow when found to be in violation of ODEQ rules. In Guthrie’s case, this consent order was issued due to the high number of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) that have occurred over the past decade. Due to the condition of the lines, the City was seeing 50 to 70 SSOs per year.
In order to satisfy the consent order and come into compliance with regulations that the City must follow, a large sanitary sewer project (called the CMOM project for capacity maintenance and operations management) was undertaken to rehabilitate or replace over 33,000 linear feet of sewer line. This project was funded by a loan from the Water Resources Board and the payments are made with the revenue from the $8.00 CMOM fee that local sewer customers see on their utility bill. This project has been going on for several years with construction starting about a year and a half ago.
With the project nearing completion, it is good to report that not only is it on time and under budget, but the results are already being seen. The 50 to 70 SSO’s that use to occur each year has now been reduced to less than 10 a year. This is a prime example of a project that is necessary, beneficial, yet many residents will be completely unaware of the work that was completed. While projects like this may not have the excitement of park improvements, new roads, or new buildings, they are essential to creating a community that can handle the growing needs of our citizens and businesses.