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City ready to bond for water, sewer improvements
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The city of Ceres is preparing to issue bonds for millions of dollars in water and sewer system improvements.

Bonds will be issued this summer and the Ceres City Council has hired the law firm of Jones Hall as the bond counsel. The firm will conduct their business for $112,500.

The city expects to issue bonds for between $4 million and $5 million for water capital projects and $7.5 million for sewer capital projects.

In February the city raised water and sewer rates in anticipation of rising costs, including the cost of installing water meters, treating water to quality standards and significant water and sewer capital projects. Rates were also raised because the city wasn't charging enough to cover expenses by about $2 million annually. The rates jumped from $15.30 per month per single-family home to $22.30; it's also expected to raise to $26.85 by 2009, $28.20 by 2010 and $31.40 by 2012-13.

Sewer rates will jump from $22.25 per month to $58.75 per month by 2012 in north Ceres and $43.99 per month in other parts of Ceres. The rates will be higher in north Ceres because wastewater is processed at the city of Modesto plant and Modesto has passed on greater operations costs to Ceres.

The cost to retrofit city residences for state-mandates water meters is expected to cost $3.2 million. The city also plans to replace some of their wells.

As far as sewer improvements go, the city will be spending $3.9 million to rebuild its headworks. That's the mechanism where the sewer pipelines join at the receiving end of the sewer plant. Public Works Director said the sewer headworks has to be rebuilt at a lower elevation to match a new pipeline installed a while back on Service Road.

"A lot of town contributes to that line and make full capacity of it we need to lower the headworks," said Scott.

Other improvements will likely result from the city analyzing its water and sewer systems in respective master plans.

In other recent action the City Council voted 4-0 to ask Glenn Reynolds of Water Solutions, Inc., to stay on as a water superintendent until a permanent hiring comes soon. The city hired Reynolds last year to help the city put two new wells on line and rehabilitate three inactive wells into production.

Reynolds is helping the city to come up with a plan to keep up the water pressure in Ceres through the summer. The state has required Ceres to come up with a plan to add to boost water production.

City Engineer Glenn Gebhardt said the city has four "great candidates" out of hundreds of applicants submitted and expects to make a decision in less than a month. Reynolds will help insure a "seamless transition" when the new water superintendent arrives.