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Recent rains proving costly for at least one city and its taxpay - KOAM TV 7

Recent rains proving costly for at least one city and its taxpayers

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CARL JUNCTION, MISSOURI - Consider this perspective from Carl Junction's city manager of all the recent rains in the area.

"We usually run in the 600 to 700 gallons a day on dry weather," says City Manager Steve Lawver.

Lawver is talking about gallons of sewage.

"Where we can expect on the wet, especially with extreme events like this, anywhere from four to five million gallons a day," says Lawver.

In case you were wondering, most people don't use the bathroom more during wet weather.  Instead, all that extra sewage is coming from groundwater infiltrating pipes.

"The ground is so wet, that it can't hold water anymore, and it will push itself into the sewer pipes," says Lawver.

Lawver says the city's current sewer water filtration facility can handle up to four million gallons of sewage a day, but some of that sewage is piped to a nearby lagoon, where it sits until rain and water treatment demands have decreased.  

But that "standby protocol" is now against Missouri Department of Natural Resources rules.

"They want you to be able to process it and push it on out to Center Creek just the way you do normal flows during anytime of the year," says Lawver.

But there's the problem, Lawver says.  Get rid of May, and the other 11 months of the year typically don't bring as much rain to the area, relative to what the sewer water treatment plant can process.  So in order to handle May rains, taxpayers are footing the bill for a four million dollar upgrade to the city's sewer water treatment plant, which includes bigger and more pumps.  Residents' utility bills have increased to cover ongoing future maintenance costs.

"It's my opinion only.  It's not an efficient use of money," says Lawver.

Efficient.  Money.  Government.  Those three words, say officials at even the local government level, sometimes just don't go together.  

Carl Junction's city manager says they have about 90 days left to complete the project.  The city doesn't face fines from the Department of Natural Resources, since work is being done to comply with the new rules.

We asked the Missouri DNR why the new rules are necessary.  Officials have not responded.

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