Callaway County will soon have its first sewer district, voters determined Tuesday.
"I just have to say thank you to everyone who came out and voted," said Kent Wood, environmental and public health specialist for the Callaway County health department. "This is going to be a great help to those who need it out in the county."
Unofficial results from the Callaway County Clerk's office showed 52 percent of voters (2,389 votes) supported the sewer district, while 48 percent (2,205) voted against.
"The number of people voting tonight was amazing," Wood said. "Those that aren't even being affected are helping those who are truly in need."
The concept of a sewer district has been floating around since 2014, Wood said. The reason: Many operators of subdivision sewer systems need help, which the district should be able to provide. Residents of subdivisions and communities which opt into the sewer district will also fund it through a monthly rate.
Of the county's more than 50 permitted National Pollutant Discharge Eliminate Systems, most are out of compliance with DNR discharge regulations in some way and face fines, Wood said. Millersburg contains 15 NPDES.
Linda Oberman, president of the Country East Home Owner's Association in Millersburg, estimated in 2017 her neighborhood has spent nearly $20,000 on fixes and fines for its sewage lagoon.
"This will be a help for us in so many ways," Oberman said. "The DNR is coming down on all the communities that aren't in compliance, and we need some resolution."
Wood said there's a legal process to certify the sewer district. After that's complete, the Callaway County Commission will appoint a board to organize the sewer district. Down the road, the board will be able to apply for grants and low-interest loans to fix and revamp NPDES.
"We look to have that board functional by the first of January in 2019," Wood said.