DNR loan helps Boone County Sewer District eliminate wastewater subdivisions

Monday, July 18, 2011 | 5:04 p.m. CDT; updated 7:02 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 18, 2011

COLUMBIA — The Boone County Regional Sewer District received a $438,000 loan from the Department of Natural Resources on Friday to eliminate two wastewater subdivisions and connect the areas to Columbia's sewer system.

The Arrowhead Lake Estates treatment plant and the University Estates lagoon will be abandoned in favor of a sewer line that connects both subdivisions to Columbia's wastewater treatment plant.

The elimination of the two public treatment and collection systems is part of the district's 2007 Capital Improvement Plan. The projects are in response to DNR improvements to water quality standards that would require those facilities and several others in the district to begin disinfecting their wastewater by 2013.

Both Arrowhead Lake Estates and University Estates discharge into unnamed tributaries of Little Bonne Femme Creek near Route K in south Columbia, according to their operating permits.

Boone County Regional Sewer District operates 39 wastewater facilities and expects to eliminate about 20 of them by 2013, General Manager Tom Ratermann said. Rather than beginning disinfection at those subdivisions, the district is removing them and sending the wastewater to larger plants.

"I personally think disinfecting lagoon effluent is going to be very problematic," he said, referring to University Estates. "Arrowhead Estates is a mechanical treatment plant, but there are other environmental regulations that are coming after disinfection."

Ratermann anticipates future state regulations to limit nutrient levels in wastewater such as ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorous. Removing those nutrients from 39 different wastewater systems is not cost effective, he said.

In 2008, county voters approved a bond issue worth $21 million for the sewer district's plans. The district's projects include removing several existing facilities, constructing a regional facility to which eliminated systems would connect and improving wastewater treatments at remaining facilities.

Ratermann said Boone County's typical sewer rates will increase from $41 per month to about $50 per month by the end of 2013. In 2008, typical rates were near $30 per month.

The loan for University Estates and Arrowhead Lake Estates comes from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a joint effort between the DNR and the Environmental Protection Agency to provide cost-effective financing for infrastructure improvements that enhance water quality.

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