Archive for Thursday, August 12, 2004

Building moratorium still possible

City’s interim sewer study doesn’t provide answers

August 12, 2004

A sewer master study's interim report pointed the city of De Soto in the direction of a new sewer plant but failed to provide the answer to how much new development could occur before a new facility was finished.

Complicating the later answer is the recent news that the current plant is not meeting state discharge requirements. Last Thursday, the De Soto City Council approved spending as much as $127,000 for two new aerators, improved screening and a new holding tank. One of the interim report's authors, Jay Norco of Shafer, Kline and Warren, said it was hoped the aerators and screening would do the job so the $37,000 needed for the holding tank could be saved.

The upgrades are designed to get the plant back in compliance and should provide about 100,000 gallons per day of reserve capacity. But just how much development that might allow before a new sewer plant is ready to go online near the end of 2006 is still an open question.

Recent testing showed the flow into the plant increased in the last six months and that the flow was more potent, City Engineer Mike Brungardt said. That and heavier-than-normal spring rains contributed to the plant's failure to meet state affluent discharge limits in recent months.

The changes in volume and nature of waste into the plant roughly coincided with the start of production at Intervet Inc. But Brungardt said he had no information pegging it's sources.

"We're going to be testing at a number of sites to determine the source of the affluent," he said.

Should the source prove to be Intervet, the terms of the company's development agreement with the city could require it to take steps like pre-treatment of waste water, Brungardt said.

Intervet might offer another challenge to the city that could affect the sewer's reserve capacity. Intervet recently expanded its production facility by 50 percent, Mayor Dave Anderson said. Once operative, the expanded facility was expected to increase its sewer usage by about the same 50-percent level, he said.

Any added production would probably require Intervet to negotiate the purchase of more water from the city, Brungardt said. The city could use those talks to address concerns about the company's sewage, he said.

Brungardt said he would inform Intervet of the city's concerns and alert developers that limits for new permits -- or a moratorium -- was possible. Those questions would be answered with a better understanding of the source of the more potent waste water, he said.

The sewer master plan was commissioned, in part, to look at the options available to the city for adding capacity.

Norco said the Council could anticipate the master plan's recommendation when it was completed in October.

"You're going to be building a new treatment plant even if you don't grow," he said.

He was exploring the possibility of connecting to a trunk line of Johnson County Wastewater's sewer plant on Mill Creek Regional Wastewater Plant, Norco said. However, much like earlier talks with Johnson County Water District No. 1, such an arrangement with the county wouldn't get the city out of the sewer business.

"They're willing to take your waste water," he said. "They don't want anything to do with your collection system."

And although Johnson County Wastewater doesn't currently require system development fees when taking on other jurisdictions as customers, De Soto's interest might trigger such a fee, Norco said.

Johnson County had purchased land in the lower Cedar Creek watershed for a future treatment plant that could serve De Soto, Norco said. The downside for the city was the uncertain date of the plant's construction, which Norco said could be from five to 25 years.

The county expressed interest in either leasing or selling De Soto property at its Cedar Creek site for the city's new sewer plant, Norco said. The county might purchase, expand or build beside it at a future date, he said

A new sewer plant would cost about $5 million, Norco said.

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