Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 25, 2018

Archaeological dig underway in Fairfield

Last step before city negotiates with landowners
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jul 05, 2017

The city of Fairfield has paid for an archaeological review of land that will be torn up for sewer improvements.

Fairfield is in the midst of major improvements to its wastewater treatment plant and sanitary sewer conveyance system. The first phase started in 2016 and is nearly complete.

Upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant are expected to begin this summer and be completed by spring 2020.

The planning and design of STEP II is underway, which covers the portion of the conveyance system along Crow Creek from Lamson Woods, around the east side of the city north to the campus of Maharishi University of Management.

The projects must be completed in order to meet Environmental Protection Agency and Iowa Department of Natural Resources mandates. The city will lay a new sewer line in some places and replace existing line in others.

The archaeological review of STEP II is required for projects of this size. The city has hired Rolling Hills Consulting Service of Washington, Iowa, to complete a phase I archaeological study of STEP II. The contract is not to exceed $5,750. Rolling Hills will access portions of the construction zone to take soil samples. The work began June 26 and will continue through Aug. 30.

City Engineer Melanie Carlson said the company will use hand augers to dig through the soil. They sieve the soil looking for artifacts from either Native Americans or early settlers.

“The artifacts could be buried deep or they could be just below the surface, and nobody knows about them or they’ve forgotten about them over the years,” Carlson said.

Carlson said she was working on a water project once where an archaeological firm discovered the remains of a historic fort along a river.

“If the company finds anything, that will dictate what happens next,” Carlson said. “In the case of the fort, the [authorities] said we couldn’t put the water main at that location.”

The archaeological dig will determine if the city will have to alter its plans for sewer main construction. Carlson said that sometimes construction crews must operate under certain restrictions, such as if they find a piece of pottery, to turn it into the authorities to see if it was significant.

The archaeological dig is the last step the city must take before beginning negotiations with landowners over easements. Some easements will be temporary, since the city would only need access to some property during construction, and others would be permanent, meaning the sewer main would run through it or the city would need repeated access to it.

“We’ll have a public meeting on the route for STEP II in September,” Carlson said. “Our negotiations will be for land between Lamson Woods and M.U.M., and we expect it to take six months. I hope property owners will work with the city so these improvements to the sanitary sewer can happen.”

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