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City opts for standalone wastewater treatment plant PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 March 2018 11:36


• Leader & Times

A new wastewater treatment plant in Liberal came closer to reality during the most recent meeting of the Liberal City Commission Tuesday evening. 

Several meetings and discussions have already occurred regarding the project, with the consensus among the commissioners being a preference for a standalone plant. During Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners approved a handful of sub-items that ultimately brought the project closer to being, the first of which was finishing the designs and building the plant. All these items were approved 4-0, with Liberal City Commissioner Jack Carlile absent for the evening. 

“As you all know, we’ve had several conversations with city staff, commissioners and National Beef staff and others,” Interim Liberal City Manager Calvin Burke said. “The consensus was, after we all got done, that number one, we would go ahead and finish our designs and build the plant we started, the standalone plant.”

“The last meeting we had, they gave us a 30-day time window to decide on something we’ve been wanting for 14 years,” Liberal Vice Mayor Taylor Harden said. “Realistically, with the 60 percent numbers, I wasn’t confident the regional would be anywhere near as cost-efficient as the standalone plant. It was kind of a rough predicament. And a great thing coming out of this is we will own the standalone plant as a community. It’ll be a revenue generator down the line and it’s something where we can control all the variables.”

“Basically, with the numbers, it looks like financially, we’re better off to go with the standalone option,” Burke said. “The standalone uses a municipal train and gives us the ability to produce the quality of water we can use for our own irrigation purposes like ball fields or the golf courses, things like that. I also have a customer who wants that water because it is quality water and will help generate revenue. National Beef was really good with us going our separate way and there were no hard feelings. They jumped on board.”

The commission also agreed to a 30/70 split on lagoon cleanup, of which, the City would be liable for 15 percent in cash payments, which would be deducted from National Beef’s wastewater treatment charges over a 36-month period, with the remaining 15 percent being made in lieu of a land transfer of all existing lagoons except cells 6 and 7. According to Burke, this has not changed from earlier conversations.

“One of the reasons for doing thsi is about 25 years ago, we did an anenxation deal and the City ended up taking over the lagoons, which has never had anything to do with city wastewater treatment,” Burke said. “That was all part of National Beef’s pre-treatment and we should have never been in that business. But now we own the ponds and we’re obligated to help clean them out and get them restored, and it looks likes our best option is we don’t put any cash out of pocket and we’re going to trade them wastewater lagoons for basically about $1.2 million. It helps get us out from having to fund a complet $7 or $8 million lagoon cleanup.”

The commission then also approved establishing treatment rates and parameters for treatment of National Beef influent and agreed to determine ‘Do Not Accept’ levels on chlorides, National Beef’s request for tax abatement for land being transferred, and the evaluation of  the rate for municipal treated water for sale and reuse water for the irrigation of city facilities. 

Other water-related items flooded the commissioners’ time Tuesday evening, with the first of these being some remarks from local citizen Frank Friesen. The other water-related items included approving Resolution No. 2276, concerning the KDHE Water Pollution Control revolving loan and purchases of a 1-ton pickup and dump truck for the Water Department.

“My discussion for tonight will be about water drainage in Liberal, especially in the southeast part of the city,” Friesen began. “I know you’re all working on this issue, I see the 15th Street drain in front of Burger King has been worked on and cleaned out. This is thunderstorm season coming in and I don’t want to see another system like what happened last year come upon the people of Liberal. I have a problem on the east side of town. The retention ponds need to be deepened, they need to be cleaned out, and new ones need to be added to the city for the southeast part of Liberal or it’ll be underwater if it’s not put on the agenda. And we’re running out of time because that season is coming up again with thunderstorms and everything. You all have listened to my concerns, and I appreciate that, but it should be on the agenda so we can start working on these problems now before we get hit with another bad thunderstorm. The east part of Liberal, we need some help out there.”

“It’s my understanding that we’re still working on the overall comprehensive plan that will help all of Liberal, is that correct?” Harden asked of City Engineer Pete Earles, who answered in the positive. “How far out would you say we are from having a full, comprehensive vision in place to where we can start working on this?”

“I would say probably about three weeks,” Earles said. “I will have something to the commission either at the next meeting or the first meeting in April. In fact, I’ve got another meeting with those people tomorrow, they need one more piece of information, so I’ll get that together and get it sent in.”

Harden then briefly recapped his tour of the area of Friesen’s concern and added his own thoughts about the upcoming severe spring and summer weather. 

“I do understand we’re coming up on that season, especially because of how dry the area is, we’re at an extreme risk for flash floods,” Harden said. “The one thing I’d say though is if we rush into trying to implement smaller solutions instead of waiting for the whole plan and executing that on the grand scale, it might be detrimental in the long run. One thing I don’t want us to do is rush through the planning we have now and then it ends up not being a full solution for the entire community.”

Friesen then made a suggestion to make the current retention ponds deeper to help with the issue and said it would be better to do that work now as the ponds are currently dry. 

“That’s what I’m here for, to see if anything’s in the works,” Friesen said. “This has happened in the past and nothing has been accomplished. I don’t think I could stand very many of those water holes.”




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