BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. —
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has approved an agreement forming a wastewater treatment district to serve far southeastern Cherokee County.
The Shoal Creek Basin Regional Wastewater Authority includes representatives from the Cherokee County Commission, the cities of Galena and Baxter Springs, and the business committee of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.
The goal of the group is to establish a mechanical wastewater treatment system that can remove dissolved metals and industrial chemicals, and will perform better than the lagoon systems operating in the communities.
Cherokee County Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand and other officials have said that area of the county has lacked infrastructure needed for business development. It is just north of the Quapaw Tribe’s Downstream Casino Resort.
“Economic growth for the whole region is what Downstream Casino is all about,” Quapaw Chairman John Berrey said in a news release about the project. “Another very important aspect of this waste-water plan is cleaning up the Spring River. We will improve our economic viability and quality of life for the region by ceasing to pollute the Spring River.”
The tribe’s participation in the project was part of an agreement with the Kansas governments that they wouldn’t oppose the tribe’s application to place its Kansas land in trust.
Galena Mayor Dale Oglesby praised the project and the cooperation among governments.
“The ability to treat industrial wastewater is one of the major keys to unlocking the region’s economic potential,” Oglesby said in the news release. “This new entity is a strong partnership that can get it done, and everyone is committed.”
The next step for the group is to hire an engineer to complete a preliminary engineering report. That report will be used to apply for grants or loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program for planning and construction. No cost estimates or time frames have been established.
THE KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION plans to expand U.S. Highway 166 in the area to a four-lane freeway, with construction starting in 2017 or 2018.