Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Sewer options limited to new plant

Projected fees eliminate option of connecting to Johnson County Wastewater

November 24, 2004

The De Soto City Council last Thursday further narrowed a list of sewer-capacity expansion options, all but ensuring the city will build a new sewer plant in the next two years.

The Council was presented with draft copies of the sewer master plan it commissioned last spring. With that draft prepared by Shafer, Kline and Warren consultants Jay Norco and Steve Baker, the Council saw for the first time estimates of construction costs and operational and maintenance costs of the three options.

The construction cost estimates included phase I packages that satisfied the city's current needs and the cost of upgrades needed in the next 20 years. The costs for phase I of each option were:

  • $5.9 million to construction of a 1.3-million-gallon-a-day plant near the current treatment plant.
  • $7.5 million to construction of a 1.3-million-gallon-a-day plant in the West Bottoms near the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant easement.
  • $4.3 million to install a force main that would connect to the Johnson County Wastewater in Monticello Township.

With the completion of all three phases, both new plants were estimated to cost $9.4 million while the Johnson County connection would cost $7.8 million.

"You're probably having sticker shock," Baker said. "There have been significant construction cost increases in the past two years."

Any sticker shock Council members experienced was likely exacerbated when the consultants shared figures showing the cheapest option, the Johnson County Wastewater connection, came with operational and maintenance costs that more than offset savings realized in construction.

Largely driven by the fees Johnson County Wastewater would charge to treat De Soto waste, it was estimated the option would cost $740,000 a year more in operational and maintenance costs. The estimated annual maintenance and operational costs of the proposed West Bottoms plant would be $212,000 while the price tag of a new central plant was estimated at $223,000 (all estimates were based on 2004 dollars and the 1.3-million-gallon-per-day of waste).

Disappointed Council members agreed to eliminate the county option.

"Me too, now," Councilman Emil Urbanek said of joining his fellow Council members in the decision. "I really thought that would be the cheapest option."

That left the two options that would build new treatment plants. The difference in their costs was the need for a forced main and pumping station upgrades to get city sewage two miles west to the West Bottom site.

With the draft report, the consultants provided updated maps of probable service areas for the new sewer's 20-year projected life. The maps indicated sewers could be extended up the Kill Creek basin to the southern city limits, the Lexington Avenue/103rd Street corridor, and the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant panhandle. Added to the maps released last Thursday were areas to the west of the city from Edgerton Road to the Captain Creek basin.

Both proposed plant locations could serve all these areas, the consultants said. But City Engineer Mike Brungardt said the location of the plant to the west of the city would do more to encourage growth in that direction. It could spur developer interest in participating in the installation of a force main from the Sunflower easement to west of Edgerton Road, he said.

In expressing a preference for the eastern site, Councilman Tim Maniez noted the West Bottom plant's $1.5 million higher up-front cost's consequence to rates. Western growth that would offset that expense was more speculative than that poised to occur along the Kill Creek corridor, he said.

Mayor Dave Anderson and Councilwoman Mitra Templin said they favored the West Bottoms' site because the established large-lot pattern limited the growth potential of the city's eastside.

In response to a question by Templin, Brungardt said there was one potential development proposal for the westside that could provide revenue to make the West Bottoms option more affordable. Jim Lambie, the lead developer in the Arbor Ridge subdivision, has had preliminary discussions with the city about developing 500 acres to the west of Edgerton Road, he said.

The developer told The Explorer last month that he would bring a proposal to the city concerning that property after getting resolution on Arbor Ridge, which the De Soto Planning Commission will consider Tuesday.

There could be cooperative opportunities with the developer, but that discussion remained speculative at this time, Brungardt said.

The experience of other area cities indicated that a westside sewer plant would attract Lambie or other developers, the mayor said.

"You have a no-growth factor or a growth policy," he said. "If you build them, they will come. Development follows sewers. Look at Eudora. Look at the spike in activity near 83rd Street and (Kansas) 7 Highway."

The majority of Council members agreed more information was needed before making a final selection, especially on the all-important consequence of each plant on customer rates. Baker and Norco said they would return Dec. 2 with information on rates and the city's system development fee charge to new hookups. That would include methods that could lessen the effect on current customers until development started to occur, they said.

The public would be invited to comment at the meeting, which will start at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 32905 W. 84th Street.

The consultants gave the Council information to consider. The city could eliminate five pump stations with gravity sewers, which were less expensive to operate and maintain they said. The total cost to replace the pump stations would be $740,000, but would recoup that investment in 20 years and save $255,000 in the next 50 years, the consultants said.

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