Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2006

Council debates city’s need for sewage treatment

October 19, 2006

Continued growth in Basehor is putting more pressure on the city's sewage treatment plant.

And while city officials don't agree whether to expand the current plant or build a second plant -- or do some combination of the two -- they agree they must do something.

According to a consultant hired by the city, the existing plant can treat up to 560,000 gallons of sewage a day. On average, the current demand is 75,000 shy of capacity.

So, the need to act is clear.

On Monday, city council members debated just how to proceed on this issue that, while not glamorous, must be solved for the city to continue growing.

The consultant -- David Lutgen of MHS Engineering --said he looked at the average number of building permits issued per year, as well as census data to determine a projected population.

Lutgen said he expects the population in Basehor to be between 5,000 and 10,000 people by 2030.

The city's population at the 2000 census stood at 2,238. But an estimate the U.S. Census Bureau made for 2005 showed the city had grown by nearly 1,050 people.

Council member Iris Dysart questioned Lutgen's population projections because were for areas inside the existing city limits. Dysart said subdivisions on the outskirts of the city that are not within the city limits-- such as Briarwood, Cedar Falls and Glenwood Estates -- should be included in projections because they may soon be annexed into the city.

"I don't think we're accurately seeing what we want to see because those places are right on the brink," Dysart said.

Based on Lutgen's population projections, he said the best place for the new treatment facility would be between 171st Street and 178th Street, south of U.S. Highway 24-40. The city's current treatment plant is west of Basehor-Linwood High School.

"We figured a 2 million gallon plant should last the city 25 years before it would need to be expanded," Lutgen said.

To buy a little time for a new plant to be constructed, the existing plant also must be expanded, city officials agreed.

The sewer plant's original design called for expansion in phases.

The current phase, phase 1, has a capacity of 560,000 gallons per day. Phase 2 goes up to 755,000 gallons, phase 3 handles 1.1 million gallons and phase 4 is 2.4 million gallons.

Lutgen recommended expanding the existing plant to phase 3.

However, a few council members disagreed.

"I've been saying this for three and a half years," council member Bill Hooker said. "We need to go to phase 2, forget about phase 3, and at the same time be working on the new plant. I don't think we should spend the money on phase 3 right now. I think phase 2 covers us for several years."

Council president John Bonee agreed, saying that he thought too much money was being spent on the short-term plant expansion.

"We're loading down the taxpayer for a future growth spurt, which may or may not come," he said.

Since much of Basehor's sewage is pumped uphill to the current treatment plant, making for fairly expensive electricity bills -- $40,000 to $50,000 a year, the city administrator said -- a suggestion was made to take advantage of gravity and hook up with Bonner Springs' sewer line.

However, questions were raised whether a partnership between the two cities was a good idea and whether Bonner Springs had the capacity to handle another city's sewage.

"I do not agree to go to Bonner," said city superintendent Gene Myracle. "We lose all control. They are open to charge whatever they feel they need to cover their rates."

City Administrator Carl Slaugh suggested that Lutgen take the project to the next level and include cost projections for the expansion and some manpower costs.

Council member Terry Thomas also suggested adding a timeline. Keith Sifford, council member agreed.

"I wouldn't mind seeing both of those worked up," Sifford said. "It would give us some realization on what our options would be."

The council agreed, 3-2, with Hooker and Sifford opposed, to table adoption of the sewer plan until next month. Lutgen will present a revised plan, including a timeframe breakdown and projected costs, at the Nov. 13 city council work session.

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