ORONOCO — The City of Oronoco is putting the pieces in place for the construction of its new wastewater treatment plant, which will begin this fall.

On Tuesday, the city held a first reading of its new sewer ordinance, which must be fully approved by July 1, said Mayor Ryland Eichhorst.

The City Council will need to approve a second reading of the ordinance — likely at a special meeting next week — and, at some point, set the sewer and water utility rates in the city before the plant is completed.

ALSO READ: Wastewater treatment plant plans move forward in Oronoco

The $41 million infrastructure project received a $24.027 million boost in October in the form of state bonding funds. In addition to $2.269 million in bonding funds from 2017-18, and a $7 million Point Source Implementation Grant, the city will need to raise $8.115 million to complete the funding through local revenue.

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Water runs along the Zumbro River as it passes through Oronoco Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Oronoco Mayor Ryland Eichhorst is asking people within the Zumbro River watershed to complete a survey concerning getting a regional water trail designation for the river. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)
Water runs along the Zumbro River as it passes through Oronoco Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Oronoco Mayor Ryland Eichhorst is asking people within the Zumbro River watershed to complete a survey concerning getting a regional water trail designation for the river. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)

Those local funds would likely come through monthly user fees for wastewater like residents in other cities see on their water and sewer bills.

Eichhorst said the Oronoco ordinance and fee schedule will likely mirror what is seen in Rochester.

The City Council heard from Eichhorst about a project to have the Zumbro River designated a regional water trail.

The Zumbro River Regional Water Trail Guiding Committee has created an online survey to gauge people's interest in the water trail proposal. The designation would allow the group to apply for state grants to improve access, add signage, and help fund river improvement projects.

"This is all part of our public input that goes into our master plan," Eichhorst said.

After collecting public input, the committee will then create a master plan to be delivered to the state with the hopes of being designated a regional trail like the Cannon Valley Trail.

The map shows the extent of the Zumbro River and the proposed regional water trail. (Contributed photo/ZRRWT Guiding Committee)
The map shows the extent of the Zumbro River and the proposed regional water trail. (Contributed photo/ZRRWT Guiding Committee)

"We’re close to Rochester, and you don’t have to drive far to get to the river, so that’s a plus," Eichhorst said.

Finally, Eichhorst said the city is preparing for its annual antique sale, Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days, slated for Aug. 20-22.

The event was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year's Gold Rush event will look a lot like previous years, he said.

"Our vendor count is doing really well, about like 2019," he said. "People are anxious to come back."

Eichhorst said some longtime vendors have gone out of business, either due to the economy during the pandemic, or because they have simply retired. But there are new vendors who have signed up to take their places.

The big difference in 2021 will be hand-sanitizing stations at each booth, he said.

Water runs along the Zumbro River as it passes through Oronoco Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Oronoco Mayor Ryland Eichhorst is asking people within the Zumbro River watershed to complete a survey concerning getting a regional water trail designation for the river. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)
Water runs along the Zumbro River as it passes through Oronoco Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Oronoco Mayor Ryland Eichhorst is asking people within the Zumbro River watershed to complete a survey concerning getting a regional water trail designation for the river. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)



What happened: The city approved the first reading of its sewer ordinance, and Mayor Ryland Eichhorst gave updates on the Zumbro River Regional Water Trail project and Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days. Anyone interested in providing input on the regional water trail project can do so at survey.alchemer.com/s3/6182877/Zumbro-River-Regional-Water-Trail.

Why does this matter: The sewer order is a step required by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as part of the process for construction of the city's first-ever wastewater treatment plant.

What's next: The city will approve a second reading at a special meeting next week, and a fee schedule for sewer and water services will be set later in 2021. Construction on the $41 million project begins later this fall.