Holts Summit is planning a multi-million dollar project to reconfigure the city's sewer system and send all wastewater to Jefferson City for treatment, likely to be finished by the end of next year.
City Administrator Rick Hess said 3.5-5 miles of new piping would be added in the $5 million-$6 million project and take about 18 months to complete. The project should start in the next few months and would save money in the long run, reducing maintenance and operating costs for Holts Summit.
Hess said money for the project would come from a loan with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will be paid over the course of about 30 years from Holts Summit's dedicated sewer funds.
Keith Edwards, Holts Summit sewer department superintendent, said the agreement to send sewage to Jefferson City is a roughly 35-year deal and took close to a year of mild negotiations to set up.
"There was never any heated talk or 'this isn't going to happen,'" Edwards said. "It was always just a matter of 'let's make sure we have everything taken into account.'"
According to the rate schedule for the agreement, Holts Summit will pay Jefferson City a flat fee per year that will raise over the course of the contract, starting at $215,000 and raising to $550,000 by the end of the deal in 2051. There is also a renewal term to lengthen the agreement to 2056, which would raise the yearly fee to $625,000.
Holts Summit must also stay under a daily flow limit to not trigger additional fees. Edwards is confident the city will not exceed that limit, except on rare occasions.
Sewage from the west side of the city is already being sent to Jefferson City for treatment. A treatment facility built 46 years ago on the east side handles the rest of the wastewater produced by Holts Summit. The project will link the existing infrastructure on both sides of the city so all sewage flows to Jefferson City.
Edwards said the project will bypass the old treatment facility and connect 102 houses in Holts Summit which are not already on the city's sewer system. Many of those houses are set up to run wastewater behind the house to a drain field or lagoon system instead of going toward public access next to a road. Because of this, Edwards added, some of the work must be done in the back yards of properties.
The old treatment facility, which has become expensive to maintain, will be taken offline and converted to use in emergency situations, such as heavy rainfall.
The original plan for Holts Summit was to build a new facility, but Edwards said routing wastewater to Jefferson City would save about $1.5 million in initial costs and likely save money in the long run, as the city would not need to pay for updates to or maintenance of a facility.
Edwards said the current treatment facility operates well within compliance of federal guidelines, but if those standards were increased or different toxins were added to the list of what must be filtered out, it would be costly to keep the equipment up-to-date.
Hess said equipment in the treatment facility was originally bought used — so the city has to recognize its limited lifespan.
"You just never know when (the facility is) gonna have some sort of catastrophic failure," Hess said. "The potential exists."
Engineering plans for the project are prepared, but Holts Summit is waiting for a handful of residents to sign easements before continuing. If the city cannot get a signature, it will look into starting condemnation proceedings to get permission to continue with the project, Hess added.
Once the Board of Alderman and USDA approve a contractor from the bidding process, the city will get final approval and have the green light to start the project.
Residents of Holts Summit will see a rate increase on water bills on April 1, a raise of 15 cents for every thousand gallons, but Hess said it is not connected to the project.
The increase is based off a study done five years ago to determine how the city should adjust its water bills to reflect changes in maintenance costs. Hess added a new rate study is being planned for this year and will take in account how the upgrades to the system will impact costs.
Holts Summit also wants to install a new lift station at Lake Mykee, which merged with the city last year, to add it to the system. The city will look into options for that once the project in Holts Summit is completed. Hess said costs for the new station would be paid for through Lake Mykee residents' regular sewage bills.