The Two Harbors City Council accepted the final designs for the water treatment facility and water main improvement projects from engineering firm Bolton and Menk at their regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 13.

To qualify for potential Water Infrastructure Financing grants, the city needs to have its two water system projects "shovel ready" and submitted to the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority by the end of February. WIF grants cover up to 80% of the project cost, which would add be $3.3 to $5 million for Two Harbors.

The work is split into two projects: one focuses on the water treatment system, while the other would address the water distribution system.

On the treatment side, the city would replace a leaking chlorine contact tank and upgrade the existing building. The building was constructed in 1956 and is said to have leaked for years.

On the water distribution side, four locations along the system have been identified for water main replacement. In addition, two pressure reducing valve stations would be replaced. Bolton and Menk engineers recommended grouping the projects into one large water main improvement project to save costs and potentially receive greater grant funding.

Bolton and Menk, the engineering firm the city contracts with, received authorization to create the preliminary plans in August and is prepared to create the final plans for submission to the Minnesota Department of Health for approval.

"We’ve got the framework laid out for the final design and we’re back tonight to review that and seek authorization to create that final design," said Joe Rhein of Bolton and Menk.

Funding for the projects isn't guaranteed, as projects are scored on a priority list based on affordability. However, Rhein said the city's debt could help it get more funding for the work.

"Right now the city has debt on its water system, so you’re in a favorable position to be eligible for grants on the water side of the funding," Rhein said.

However, if the projects aren't picked for WIF grant funding in this cycle, the city will still be able to use engineering plans, with the work scaled back for affordability purposes. The other option is the city can remain in the WIF grant-funding queue.

The Minnesota Public Facilities Authority will know how much grant money is available by the end of the summer, Rhein said.

"Then in September, the funding list will come out and you’ll find out exactly which projects got funded and hopefully the Two Harbors projects will be on the list," he said.

The council voted unanimously to accept the preliminary plans and move forward with the final plans. Mayor Chris Swanson was absent.