Residents of Sunrise Estates have been living with an aging sewer system for years. A treatment plant emits a noticeable odor. Tree roots and rainwater clog the system’s weak clay pipes. Wastewater leaks into nearby Grindstone Creek.
The neighborhood needs better sewers, said Tom Ratermann, manager of the Boone County Regional Sewer District, which serves the area.
Boone County voters, including residents of Columbia, will be asked in November to approve a 4 percent annual increase of the district’s sewer rates in order to pay for the improvements as part of a $3.85 million bond issue.
The district hopes to connect Sunrise Estates, just east of Columbia, to the city sewer system through a series of new pumping stations. The project would make the current system, which relies on two lagoons and a wastewater treatment plant, obsolete.
“As these systems get older, they fill up with sludge,” Ratermann said.
The money would also pay for a new wastewater treatment plant for Prairie Meadows and sewer extensions for the Concorde Estates, El Chaparral and Lake of the Woods subdivisions. The projects would be completed over the next seven years.
“Voters have demonstrated that they are supportive of environmental issues,” Ratermann said. “This will keep residents from discharging treated wastewater into the creeks of Boone County.”
The new rate would increase sewer bills for the approximately 5,000 customers served by the district. Over the seven-year period, the cost of sewer service would rise to $26.26 per month, up from the present rate of $19.19, said Al Callier of Archer Engineers, who worked on the district’s rate study.
“That’s probably less than most people’s cable bill,” Callier said, “and you’re protecting your environment.
“In most cases, it costs a lot less now to do improvements than it would to fix things years from now,” he added.
The Archer study projects the sewer district will serve about 6,000 customers by 2011.
The average customer uses about 5,000 gallons of water per month, Callier said. The district, after completing work at Sunrise Estates and the other subdivisions, would have about $500,000 left for address problems with smaller sewer systems in Boone County.