Gulfport is going to fix its sewer lines.
The City Council has authorized the mayor to apply for a $1 million state revolving fund preconstruction loan with the Department of Environmental Protection. The five-year loan would have a 2.35 percent interest rate.
After the system is evaluated, the city plans to apply for an additional $2.5 million loan to do the repair work. That loan would be amortized over 20 years with an interest rate to be determined at the time of application. The two loans would be wrapped into one with a blended interest rate.
When underground sewer lines get holes in them, they take in water — water that St. Petersburg measures and charges for. Gulfport pays St. Petersburg to treat its wastewater.
Officials estimate that a third of the treated water leaked into the 50-year-old system.
Public Works Director Don Sopak has compared how the city's bills differ between dry and rainy periods.
"In March, we had 8 inches of water in three days. The next month, we paid $30,000 more," Sopak said.
In the relatively dry 2008-2009 fiscal year, the city paid St. Petersburg $686,500 to treat its water, Sopak said.
Last year, a relatively rainy year, the city paid $937,600 because of infiltration costs, Sopak said.
The evaluation, which is expected to be done in October 2013, is to figure out what areas in the city's nearly 42 miles of sewer pipes are in the worst shape. Manholes — there are 713 in the city — will be repaired, and repairs will be made where major inflows are found.
The city does not expect to increase costs to taxpayers unless St. Petersburg raises its rates, City Manager Jim O'Reilly said.
Although the rates are typically increased 3 percent to 5 percent per year, the city expects a 25 percent increase when its contract is up in 2017, O'Reilly said.
"It's a very deteriorated system in very bad shape," Mayor Mike Yakes said.