Archive for Thursday, March 8, 2001

Council gives go ahead on trial septic plan

March 8, 2001

The Eudora City Council has authorized testing for a new plan that could ease the burden of septic waste disposal in three Douglas County cities.

City Engineer Matt Taylor said he has been involved in discussions with Douglas County Commission members, the Douglas County administrator, health department members and septic haulers. From those discussions, Taylor said the idea came for Lawrence, Baldwin City and Eudora to take in septic waste from their respective areas. The waste would be taken to each city's wastewater treatment plant and mixed in with the city's regular waste.

Taylor said he is optimistic the plan would work.

"It looks like we could take a 1,000-gallon load on any given day and not have any problems at all," he said.

Taylor said the plan would require some testing. The council approved the idea of testing a single load last week. After running the first load, Taylor would monitor the plant's efficiency. Should no problems arise, the plant would take in another load with more monitoring. After testing single loads on two alternating days with no adverse effects, the plan would be ready to be approved by the council.

Taylor said the council has expressed its desire to work with the county on the issue, but will not do so if it comes with a financial loss to the city.

"The council would only do it if it was economically viable," he said. "We're not going to do it if we lose money on the deal."

Weinaug said if the plan works, each city's wastewater plant would take in septic waste from homes in its city's immediate area. Septic haulers would be charged for each 1,000-gallon load and the cost would be passed on to tank owners.

"The idea of the equity of it is, in this way, we would typically be taking sludge from septic tanks in this area," Taylor said. "It would still be essentially helping out the county, but it would be from all local (houses)."

In addition to Lawrence and Eudora facilities, Baldwin City officials plan to build a 900,000-gallon wastewater treatment plant that should be functioning by late 2002. If the new septic plan works and is approved, Baldwin City could build the facility with the plan in mind, Weinaug said.

The county commission's original plan proposed building a $575,000 septic waste storage tank next to Eudora's wastewater treatment plant. To pay for the facility, septic tank owners would pay a $20 annual fee. The Douglas County Commission studied the plan for a new facility but never approved it.

Though the new plan would still represent a price increase from septic tank owners, Weinaug said the cost couldn't be avoided due to rising disposal costs. With this plan, tank owners would not be required to pay an annual fee. Owners would pay when tanks are emptied, which happens about once every 10 years, he said.

Weinaug said the new plan would require that disposal fees remain the same at the three cities to keep one facility from receiving more than it could handle.

Though the cost is not yet determined per 1,000-gallon disposal, rates could be expected to meet that of Lawrence's wastewater treatment plant. The Lawrence City Commission last year approved an increase of per load costs to take effect over the next two years. Currently, the cost is $45.80 per 1,000-gallon load. On Sept. 1, 2001, the cost will rise to $91.60 per load and in Sept. 1, 2002, the cost will increase to $137.41.

Weinaug said if the new plan didn't work, the original plan of building a storage facility in Eudora may be the most viable option.

"What we're trying to accomplish is to either find an alternative to the original that works, or we get back and say 'hey, that original proposal is the only alternative,'" he said.

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