Archive for Thursday, March 17, 2005

Basehor in a ‘pickle’ with sewage treatment plant

March 17, 2005

Members of the Basehor City Council criticized March 8 the planning and location chosen by a past administration for the Basehor Wastewater Treatment Facility. Past members of the City Council said growth projections and engineers didn't prepare them properly for implementing the facility.

"We're stuck with it," Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer said. "We've got to add on."

Basehor council members met with city superintendent Gene Myracle Monday, March 7 to discuss the treatment plant and expansion plans.

Only an estimated 80 new connections separate the treatment facility from reaching its first phase capacity, Myracle said.

With the city averaging approximately 75 to 90 new homes per year, it may not be long until more sewage is flowing into the treatment plant than it was designed to handle.

"I know," Myracle said bluntly, "we're in a pickle."

It was numbers such as those presented by Myracle that prompted the City Council to direct the superintendent to move forward with an expansion project for the treatment plant.

The governing body also indicated it would begin researching whether it could acquire a state loan that would be used to purchase land for a future treatment plant facility, to be located, ideally, on more suitable ground than the current treatment plant.

City Council member John Bonee broached the idea of exploring the purchase of land for a new treatment facility. He said the current location is unsuitable for a treatment plant and it requires costly equipment.

"Why we put a treatment plant on the top of a hill I have no idea," Bonee said.

"We may need two plants (in the future) but that location isn't good for either one of them," he said.

Burl Gratny, a past member of the City Council that helped implement the treatment plant facility, said engineers steered the council wrong in many ways regarding the treatment plant facility.

"It's pretty easy to bad-mouth the location where we put this sewer plant," Gratny said, adding that a number of sites were reviewed for the treatment plant but many of them weren't available.

"This was the best location (project engineers) could come up with," he said.

"They kind of did us wrong."

Original estimates indicated the treatment plant wouldn't need an expansion for several years. Growth estimates and consultation from engineers led the council to believe it was making the right choices regarding the sewer plant, said Chris Garica, who, like Gratny, also served on the past council.

"There was no way we thought this would be at capacity at this time," Garcia said.

The treatment plant was completed in 2001 as an expandable facility. In its current first phase, the treatment plant can process 535,000 gallons per day. In it's fourth phase, the treatment plant can process 2.2 million gallons per day and would serve a population as high as 20,000.

The city is exploring an expansion project that would alter the treatment plant to the fourth phase. The project is estimated to cost $5 million, but Myracle said the city could possibly save between $1 million and $1.5 million on the project if previous design plans were altered. Although the design would be modified, Myracle said the leap to the fourth phase would still allow the treatment plant to process 2.2 million gallons per day.

The project would take an estimated 18 months to complete, he said.

According to Myracle's estimates, the treatment plant has an average in-flow of 501,812 gallons per day from 1,147 users connected to the treatment plant.

In January and February, the treatment plant processed an average of 600,000 gallons per day, but as Myracle indicated, the difference could be attributed to wet weather conditions, which increases intake.

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