CARTHAGE, Mo. —
The approval of Carthage voters will be sought later this year on proposed financing for a $7.5 million project to upgrade the city’s sewage treatment plant to meet new state regulations.
The city-owned Carthage Water & Electric Plant is planning the project, which also would address odor problems from the plant, which can be a problem especially in summer months, said Bob Williams, executive director for CW&EP.
Williams said CW&EP recently commissioned a study of the plant to evaluate the operation for capacity and regulatory compliance.
“One of the state mandates coming down from EPA (the federal Environmental Protection Agency) would require tougher enforcement in limiting the discharge of ammonia,” he said. “The present plant would not be in compliance when we’re evaluated for a new permit, which will be in about three years.”
Williams said the CW&EP board has directed him to start seeking financing for the project, which would come as a low-interest loan through the state’s revolving fund for water and wastewater projects.
“We’re also going to apply for a grant from the state, and if we get it, it will decrease our requirements for financing,” he said. “We hope we’ll be able to get a grant for up to $3 million, meaning we’d only have to finance a little over $4 million. Otherwise, we’ll be financing the full amount.”
Williams said approval by Carthage voters will be required for the utility to borrow money through the state fund.
“That part will be up to the City Council, who will have to schedule the election,” he said.
Money that is borrowed would be repaid through CW&EP revenues, but Williams said he does not expect any significant impact on customers’ bills because Carthage in 2016 will complete paying back money it borrowed earlier from the state revolving fund for a water and wastewater project. Revenues going to that loan could then be shifted to sewage plant project. Any increase in CW&EP charges must be approved by the council.
The project would include new pumping equipment, sludge basins and aeration equipment to meet future limits for ammonia and nitrogen discharges, and construction of an aerobic digester and mixers to replace the current sludge management system and address odor problems.
The project also will include the relocation of a maintenance building to higher ground at the treatment plant complex. During flooding, water comes over a dike that separates the treatment plant from the river and floods the maintenance building.
Williams said the plant has been in its current location for at least 60 years and was expand in the 1990s.
“That’s part of the problem with the odor,” he said. “When the plant was built, it was out in the country, and now the town has grown up around it.”
Williams said adding the aeration equipment will increase capacity of the plant, which is expected to be able to serve Carthage until about 2035.
THE TREATMENT PLANT has enough capacity that it could serve another new industry, if Carthage were to attract one. More growth beyond that “would exhaust our capacity pretty quickly,” said Bob Williams, executive director of Carthage Water & Electric Plant.