By Debby Woodin

Joplin must meet new environmental regulations for its sewage-collection-and-treatment systems, and that will require $35 million worth of work that might have to come from a bond issue and increased sewer rates.

City staff will outline a proposal to achieve compliance with the regulations to the City Council during a work session on Monday night. The public works department will seek council approval to proceed with preparing formal plans for work to the city’s two sewage-treatment plants and its sewer-line-collector system.

“It’s a directive,” said Tim Nyander, the city’s community services manager. “Every municipality is under this directive.”

There are two possibilities for financing the work. The city could seek a bank loan or it could take out loans from a state fund.

Borrowing from the state revolving-fund loan program requires voter approval. A bank loan would not require a vote, but it would be more costly. City staff members will propose that the financing be repaid from increased sewer rates rather than from imposing a tax.

The work is needed to meet new water-cleanliness regulations for the water discharged from the treatment plants on Turkey Creek and Shoal Creek, and to minimize spills in the sewage-pipe systems, said Jack Schaller, assistant public works director.

“We’re doing this to make sure we don’t get out of compliance or that we’re not out of compliance very long,” Schaller said.

Work totaling $16 million is needed at the Turkey Creek plant. An ultraviolet-disinfection system for the water discharged from the plant is needed to reduce pathogen levels in the water, Nyander said. The federal Environmental Protection Agency does not have limits on those levels, but the EPA will in future regulations, he said.

Filters and other equipment to process larger amounts of water are needed at the Turkey Creek plant in order to meet demand and future growth, Nyander said, and changes in the equipment to process solids are needed to reduce disposal costs.

The Shoal Creek treatment plant is operating at capacity and needs expansion and new equipment to handle increased amounts of water, solids and pollutants. Nyander said proposed changes and additions would double the plant’s capacity. Currently, 6.5 million gallons of wastewater is treated per day. The proposed upgrades would allow it to handle up to 13 million gallons per day, Nyander said.

Schaller said some repairs also would have to be done to sewer lines to reduce or eliminate leaks and incidents of overflow.

But it will be up to the City Council to decide whether to approve the project and its financing, Nyander said.

If the council agrees to go ahead, work would start immediately on preparing final engineering plans for the projects, with the goal to have all the construction done by early 2012.

Meeting agendas

The Joplin City Council will hold a special meeting at 5:45 p.m. Monday with the work session to follow. At the special meeting, the council will hear a recommendation by police Chief Lane Roberts to buy a building at 34th and Main streets to serve as a police substation.

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