Shawnee City Commissioners and city leaders assembled at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center last week for a workshop to share dialogue at-length about various topics — no action is taken during these more casual gatherings.

Shawnee City Commissioners and city leaders assembled at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center last week for a workshop to share dialogue at-length about various topics — no action is taken during these more casual gatherings.

During a workshop a year ago, city leaders brought attention to the need to begin plans to update a major city resource — the water and wastewater plants — because they were past their prime and would be costly to upgrade or rebuild.

In an hour-long presentation last week by Guernsey Project Manager Larry Roach, he explained that his team, along with AECOM, had been looking into the city's options for improving the plants.

Roach said though the plants may lok simple from the outside, they are actually complex.

“You have a water treatment staff who knows how to operate those moving parts,” he said. “I've looked at hundreds of plants and it's very well-maintained.”

Given that it's more than 40 years old, it's in very good shape, he said.

Shawnee's treatment plants have far-surpassed their intended useful lifespan, Roach said.

“The operating staff at all three of the plants have extended that life to a period now that we have got to do something,” he said.

Roach added to keep costs down, there are elements of the plants that can be kept and used for many years.

Roach said he's pleased with the status report.

“The phases we're going to go in are: we do preliminary design, studies and research and figure out what are we going to do,” he said. “Then we do an engineering report, and it's usually considered a 35-percent design, which we have fleshed out.”

Then, he said plans go to the staff and offer the proposed improvements and the budget.

“If that gets approval, we send the report to the ODEQ and get approval,” he said.

“What kind of detail is upgrading the filter media is a methodology that's never been done in Oklahoma,” he said.

Guernsey has been looking at comparable technology here and in other states, like California, Texas, Kansas and Arkansas.

“So far, we are finding limited information,” he said.

Roach said the city could easily fast track the process, and bidding could possibly be done by the end of 2018.

But Roach did not encourage that route.

“The steady procedure gets us a better product,” he said.

Roach said city staff has done the community a huge service by being anticipatory — seeing that it's an issue that will need to be addressed soon — and is tackling it now.

Watch for updates.