Truesdale city leaders have received the results of an engineering study to assess how the city can provide for current and future sewage treatment needs, and now face a fork in their path. The …
Truesdale city leaders have received the results of an engineering study to assess how the city can provide for current and future sewage treatment needs, and now face a fork in their path. The options, in short, are that Truesdale will push for a better deal with the city of Warrenton for sewage treatment, and if that fails Truesdale will seek financing to build an independent sewage plant.
Truesdale is seeking options for its sewer service after having new residential developments halted by Warrenton, which contracts to provide sewage treatment for Truesdale. Warrenton says that it is currently reserving diminishing capacity at its sewage treatment plant for developments within its own borders. Seeing multiple major developments progressing in Warrenton, while none can happen in Truesdale, has rankled leaders of the smaller town.
Truesdale’s board of aldermen and mayor likely would have been satisfied to hear that building and operating an independent sewage plant is a straightforward proposition. But Josh Hartsock, the engineer with Klingner & Associates hired for the sewer study, gave a more pragmatic outlook for such a proposal.
“You’re going to have to redirect sewer mains to it, you’re going to have to buy land. ... You’re also looking at having to get an operator, also any chemical dosing, permitting. Then just the initial capital cost of building it,” Hartsock said. “It can be done if the city wants to do it. I’m just going to say it’s quite an undertaking.”
Hartsock said Truesdale’s sewer needs were projected out to 2040, with estimated population growth increasing the town to 1,400 people. He said residential sewer needs were considered separately from industrial services.
The cost to build a sewer plant to serve Truesdale’s current and future residential needs is $4.6 million, according to the engineer’s report. Building a system that can handle industrial sewage, including from the Coca-Cola plant, would cost significantly more.
The annual operating cost for a sewage plant was estimated at $123,000, which Mayor Chris Watson said is close to what Truesdale already pays to its neighbor for sewer service.
To pay for construction, Truesdale would have to seek grant funding to cover part of the cost and pay for the rest through other means, including user fees that it would be keeping instead of paying to Warrenton. Hartsock was skeptical of a grant covering more than half the cost of a plant, and said rate increases for residents could be necessary.
City officials noted that federal stimulus money currently being paid to cities for COVID-19 relief is allowed to be used for sewer system improvements, potentially alleviating the cost.
Hartsock said it would take three to five years to get a sewer plant operational.
The other alternate for sewage treatment, joining Public Water Supply District 2 in Wright City, likely wouldn’t benefit Truesdale, Hartsock reported. He said the city would spend a lot of money to connect to that system, only to be limited by similar capacity issues.
Figuring out how to build an independent sewage system without imposing a massive rate increase on residents is enough of a barrier that Truesdale leaders said they’re first going to push for a better deal with Warrenton. As Warrenton is preparing to seek a sewer improvement bond issue that will also increase rates for Truesdale residents, Truesdale believes now is the time to renegotiate the service agreement in a way that provides the smaller town with easier access to sewer treatment.
“We want to be autonomous enough to be able to say, ‘Yes, you can start this development project, the sewer hookup will be no problem,’” said Alderman Jerry Cannon. “We want to not be subjugated to Warrenton. It’s almost like their board is more powerful than us in our own actions.”
How such a goal would be accomplished would have to be negotiated through extensive talks, and depends largely on what position Warrenton takes on the issue. Truesdale is hopeful that Warrenton will see benefit in renegotiating the service agreement; otherwise, divorcing the two cities’ sewer systems remains a distinct possibility.