City officials say they hope a proposed citywide sewer system will not only help the city meet Utah County Health Department standards but also encourage industrial and commercial growth.

Members of the City Council have been pursuing federal grants to install a sewer system to replace the city's septic tank system.Last year, the city secured a $35,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant to create a facility plan for the proposed project. That study is being performed by Alden Robinson of Sunrise Engineeing, a Fillmore firm. Robinson suggests the city install an aerated, lagoon-type water and waste disposal plant. To do so, the city would be required to purchase a site for the lagoon and comply with EPA standards for construction and installation of the plant as well as its operation.

According to Councilwoman Marilyn Clayson, who is spearheading the city's efforts, Robinson has determined that the project would cost approximately $4.5 million. Almost one-third of that money could come from a one-time Environmental Protection Agency grant administered by the State Department of Health and Human Services. Unlike a bond, that grantwould not have to be repaid.

Additional funding would come through monthly sewer bills for residents ranging from $26 to $30, as well as a one-time connection fee estimated between $350 to $400. However, with possible bonding or funds from Community Development Block Grants - residents would be able to pay the connection fees over a period of time.

Officials from the Utah County Health Department have reported that they have received numerous complaints about the city's septic tanks, including that some areas drain too quickly and some drain too slowly. Also, some businesses and individuals have reportedly been reluctant about settling near the city because of the present system.

Because of a report on residential complaints filed by the health department, Santaquin is currently ranked 27th on a list of 116 Utah cities in the running for EPA grants for sewer projects.

Robinson will make a full presentation of the project to residents at a Feb. 28 public hearing. That hearing will be at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 68 E. Main. Depending on input received from that meeting, as well as the outcome regarding the federal grants, the issue could be put on a ballot in November or even sooner as a bond election.

A survey completed last summer indicated that residents are generally in favor of installing a sewer system, Clayson said, and the timing for the project could be just right, since the grants may no longer be available next year.

The project could follow on the heels of a $1.5 million water system upgrade project that residents approved by a 93-percent advantage in a January bond election. No-interest loans from both the Utah Safe Drinking Water Committee and the State Division of Water Resources will pay for the water project, which will be repaid through an approximately 35 percent boost in monthly water bills. Engineering on that project began earlier this month.