City sewer project on track, budget

By Emily Jarrett

April 18, 2014

The city is nearly two years away from its enforced completion date of the sewer project and so far things are on schedule, said Public Works Director Bill Beck.

The Department of Natural Resources administrative order forced the city to make some $30 million in sewer and wastewater facility upgrades by summer 2016. So far only $7.2 million of that total has been spent, though much work has been done, Beck said.

“We got the order in 2009, and the first thing we had to do was see what we were working with,” he said. “We did smoke and flow testing first. We centered around areas where we knew people were getting the most backups and did a few quick repairs that would make big impacts.”

Public Works employees are analyzing additional smoke testing data and soon a scope of work will be created to address similar issues. Officials are also looking at city overflow basins, as part of the requirements of the DNR.

“We’re looking at improving the basins at the Central and North Wastewater Treatment Plants,” Beck said. “We should get the final design work in June and be finished in December.”

In addition to improving old basins, the city is also looking at adding new ones, most likely at the current Yard Waste Facility drop off on New York Avenue. Beck said if a basin there is needed, yard waste will be dropped off at the city’s compost facility.

“Everything is still in the works, we’re looking at a few other possible sites too,” he said. “We’ll also be doing some major pipe work in the next year or so. Some areas of town need bigger sewer lines that will allow water to be pushed out to the treatment plant faster and prevent flooding in homes.”

Beck acknowledged the large scope of work needed and noted Sedalia hasn’t had a major upgrade to its sewer system in years.

“Sedalia is no different than any other town,” he said. “Sewers are in the ground and out of sight. People don’t really want to think about major infrastructure improvements, they just want to be able to flush and not worry about it. It’s like changing the oil in your car, you have to keep maintaining what you have to make it last longer.”

As part of the city’s new maintenance schedule once the project is finished, the Public Works Department was recently approved to buy a truck that will help clean the sewer system.

“Half of the sewer rates are going to pay the debt service on the $30 million bond for the whole project, the other half is going into capital funds,” Beck said. “With this truck we’ll be able to have this equipment dedicated to cleaning lines. Our plan is to get to 15 to 20 percent of the sewers every year, so in five or six years, we’ll have cleaned and repair the entire city. By continuing that each year, we’ll be doing more corrective maintenance instead of the reactive maintenance we have been doing.”

The DNR requires all work be completed by summer 2016 and Beck said he believed that would be accomplished.

“As far as the budget goes, we’re fine right now, but things usually come up, especially when we start digging into pipe,” he said. “We’ll continue to keep a close eye on the expenses and hopefully with our improvements and maintenance plan, we won’t have to have a major project like this one again.”