On the wings of good news involving a compromise on the Environmental Protection Agency's mandated improvements to the wastewater treatment facility, the Fulton City Council gave the go-ahead to get started on the process at Tuesday's meeting.
The council approved execution of a Missouri Department of Natural Resources abatement order on consent - a negotiated order between the city and DNR establishing a schedule to bring city wastewater leaving the plant into compliance with new EPA standards.
City Administrator Bill Johnson said that the city, through diligent work by Utilities Director Darrell Dunlap, City Engineer Greg Hays, U.S. Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer and DNR, the city would have more time than initially anticipated to finish the first phase of the project.
Original projected deadlines for effluent disinfection were April 2014, but now the city will have until 2016 to complete the first phase of the upgrades. Furthermore, the city would have a 10-year window to monitor effluence - the water leaving the plant once treated - and should it meet new EPA cleanliness standards throughout that time, the project could be declared complete without taking additional steps.
"It's a big deal, a very successful deal for the city and citizens of Fulton," Johnson said, noting he was happy with the compromise to move to adaptive management of the project. "To make it simple, we're going to have to spend $13 million, but we get 10 years to pay it back. We've got 10 years to see improvements in the stream, and if it improves, we might be done.
"If not, more improvements will be done in 2026, and we'll have another 10 years. Instead of five years, we've got a 20-year window of possible improvements."