Exeter defaults on DNR agreement

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Missouri DNR to complete income analysis, may raise wastewater rates

Officials in the city of Exeter voted to default on the bypass elimination agreement made with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, meaning the state body will decide if wastewater rates need to go up.

Because of old piping systems and manholes, Exeter'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 presented the city with three options, each of which was 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 was 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, and the option officials eventually settled on, was to default on the agreement with the DNR, leading the state body to do an income analysis within the city and set a rate for wastewater bills. However, defaulting on the agreement means there may be grants available to the city to mitigate costs.

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

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