Exeter mulling wastewater plant options

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Changes may mean hike in bills to city's customers

The city of Exeter is mulling its options concerning how to handle a Missouri Department of Natural Resources mandate to address bypass elimination, and city officials are not excited about their options.

Because of old piping systems and manholes, the city's wastewater plant has too much rainstorm runoff water passing through its system, and by a DNR mandate, must stop the diversion of wastewater from any portion of its facility into waters of the state.

According to Paul Duncan, wastewater treatment plant supervisor and operator, the wastewater plant normally sees about 25,000 to 35,000 gallons of water per day run through its system. However, when a heavy rain falls, that number jumps up to about 975,000 gallons. Without bypassing that excess water, the wastewater plant would be flooded because it does not have enough capacity.

Duncan said the mandate to come to a decision by April 28 leaves the city with three options, each of which is likely to lead to an increase in customers' monthly bills.

The first option involved updating the city's sanitation lines and manholes to eliminate any excess water entering the plant. Duncan said the projected cost of such a project would be about $2.5 million and lead to a $100 per month increase in customers' bills.

The city would have to pay about $250,000 per year over the next 10 years to complete the project, and Duncan said that does not account for an expected 22 percent increase in costs over that period of time.

The second option is for the city to boost capacity at the plant, which would entail modernization, which could include building an oxidation pond and converting to ultraviolet lights.

Duncan said the projected cost of this plan would be about $2 million, and would lead to an $80 increase per month to customers' bills.

The final option for the city is to default on the agreement with the DNR, which would mean the state government would do an income analysis within the city and set a rate for wastewater bills.

Duncan said he is not in favor of defaulting on the agreement because he would rather not have the DNR involved in city affairs.

Aldermen in the city said defaulting may be the only option, and defaulting sooner than later may open the city up to receiving grant money that would not be available if one of the first two plans is chosen.

The Exeter Sewer Department has a total budget of $117,300 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.

The city council will meet in a special session at city hall on April 14 at 3:30 p.m. to decide on which route to take.

More information about this story will be released as it becomes available.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: