The Cassville City Council approved a voluntary compliance agreement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) pertaining to water discharged from the city's lagoon during high water events.
The city has been working with DNR for the past several months to craft a solution that will allow Cassville to comply with new stricter environmental standards that will no longer allow the city to bypass the wastewater plant and discharge water from the lagoon into Flat Creek when excess water filters into the system.
"The city has been operating under a permit that was issued in the 1970s," explained City Administrator Eugene Dilbeck. "Under that permit, DNR allowed the city to discharge water out of the lagoon during high water events. That permit expired last year, and under new laws, the discharge will no longer be allowed."
The City of Cassville is one of 56 cities facing similar permit changes. The voluntary compliance agreement the council approved on Monday gives the city time to pursue a corrective plan of action.
"The agreement allows us to continue to release from the lagoon as long as we are making steady progress to eliminate the problem," said Dilbeck. "At the end of five years, DNR has the option to extend the agreement for another five years if they see we're making progress."
Dilbeck explained that the need to discharge from the lagoon is caused by an inflow and infiltration problem that causes large amounts of water to come into the sanitary sewer system during heavy rain.
According to Dilbeck, fixing the inflow and infiltration problem is a huge task, requiring the replacement or relining of many of the city's manholes. The cost could be as high as $1,200 per manhole. The city currently maintains 450 manholes.
To date, Cassville joins four other cities in the state that have signed voluntary compliance agreements with DNR.
Acceptance of the agreement followed a closed session meeting with City Attorney Don Cupps, who reviewed the agreement and signed off on it. The agreement has also received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Council members also had the opportunity to hear reports from Steve Walensky, the city's new public works director, and Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr on the city's emergency response to the recent snow event.
Walensky explained the city's new system for clearing roads that cut down significantly on the time spent loading trucks with the mixture that is applied to ice and snow-covered roads.
"In the past, we had the material under a tarp up on the hill and we had to mix the salt into each load," said Walensky. "This time we used an empty hangar and pre-mixed the loads. It used to take 45 to 50 minutes to get a truck loaded, and under the new system, we managed to get that time down to five minutes.
"The team pulled together and did a great job," added Walensky.
Chief Kammerlohr said her officers operated "carefully" during the snow storm and went to emergency call-out only for a 48-hour period. She thanked the council for purchasing a four wheel drive Explorer as a police car last year.
"Officers would have been at a standstill without it," said Kammerlohr.
Dilbeck informed the council that reports have been filed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) concerning expenses incurred during the recent snow storm.
"If we get a federal disaster declaration, we'll be eligible for reimbursement from FEMA for expenses we had to protect the community. I can't make any promises, but we are pursuing all of it."
In other business, the council:
* Authorized an agreement to obtain GIS data from Barry County. Under the agreement, the city will pay $125 a month for access to the information that will allow city officials to map city boundaries, voting districts and city infrastructure grids.
* Tabled an ordinance amending the municipal code as it pertains to building permit fees. Mayor Tracy Holle said she wanted Public Works Director Steve Walensky and Dilbeck to further review the codes and incorporate recommendations made by members of the city's ad hoc building codes committee.
* Heard from Tony Cope in reference to a ticket his son received from a Cassville Police Officer. Cope questioned how his son could get a ticket for no turn signal when the police officer was driving a car that had a brake light out. Chief Kammerlohr said the incident was being investigated.
* Tabled a resolution that would revise the city's purchasing policy. Several recommendations for changing the revised policy were brought up by aldermen, and as a result, a final version of the policy will be created for approval at the next council meeting.
* Received a report on the city's sales tax from Darelyn Cooper, the city's finance officer. According to Cooper, sales tax in February was down 1.2 percent. "Year-to-date we're down .9 percent and we budgeted for a 1 percent decrease," said Cooper. "We were hoping it would pick up some, but we're right where we budgeted and will continue to monitor it."