Warrenton, Truesdale agree to some actions for sewer system

Warrenton sewage treatment plant. File photo.
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

City leaders of Warrenton and Truesdale met last week in a rare joint session to exchange information and air concerns about sewer service and its impact on future city development.

Warrenton’s sewage treatment plant also serves Truesdale, but Warrenton is currently not allowing its neighbor city to add new residential or industrial developments to the sewer network. Warrenton leaders say they won’t approve significant connections outside their city boundaries until the sewage treatment plant’s capacity is expanded in 2027. But to plan that expansion, Warrenton also needs information from Truesdale that hasn't yet been provided.

During the Feb. 11 joint session, mayors from both cities pointed to better ongoing communication as a solution to some frustrations.

“Both directors of public works should be able to talk to each other unhindered ... and give the information and help needed,” said Warrenton Mayor Eric Schleuter. “That was one of the biggest things we talked about, was opening that communication.”

As a starting point, Warrenton is asking Truesdale to examine its undeveloped land and make a plan for what developments might eventually be built. At Truesdale’s request, Warrenton officials agreed to provide contact with an engineering service that can turn that development plan into calculations for future sewer needs.

Fighting the clock

Unfortunately, the two cities have run down the clock to get this information shared after the need for expanded sewage treatment was made known last March. Warrenton Administrator Terri Thorn said they are now facing a fall deadline to get a rough plan to Warrenton’s sewer engineers.

“We are planning on going to the voters early in 2023 to approve additional bond issuance (for the project),” Thorn explained. To know how much to ask the voters for, she said the project will need to be engineered in 2022, which means the essential details are needed by about fall of this year.

Truesdale officials said they intend to get in touch with the engineers to develop their plan for future sewer use. However, a big unanswered question is whether Truesdale will remain on Warrenton’s sewer system at all. Truesdale is waiting on federal grant funding to study the possibility of an independent sewer system. That funding was delayed indefinitely by COVID.

Truesdale’s unmet need

Truesdale’s leaders came into the talk with one major objective: Unlocking new development as soon as possible. While Warrenton didn’t offer to set aside its own future growth for Truesdale to have more sewer capacity, Warrenton did renew a different offer made last year. If Truesdale can identify and fix leaks where rainwater is getting into the sewer and using up capacity, Warrenton will reserve that reclaimed capacity for development in Truesdale.

Funding to start such a project is part of Truesdale’s delayed grant, city officials said. And while Truesdale leaders said they appreciate the concession, it doesn’t fully satisfy their objective.

Truesdale Mayor Chris Watson said the reason his city is seeking an independent sewer system is so Truesdale’s needs can be treated as a priority, and the city’s growth won’t be hindered by someone else’s outside decisions.

As Truesdale Alderman Jerry Cannon put it, “The frustration is, we are an afterthought. More development is happening in Warrenton, but we couldn’t get development (here).”

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