The wastewater treatment study will cost about $480,000.
The Boone County Commission agreed Tuesday to help fund plans for an environmental study and find a site for a wastewater treatment plant in southern Boone County.
The study would look at streams in the Two Mile Prairie area to determine whether they are suitable to carry sewage, said Ashland City Administrator Ken Eftink.
The cost for the project is $481,651. The county, the city of Ashland and the Boone County Regional Sewer District entered an agreement with MU to pay for the planning. MU is putting up $106,151 and using $242,500 from a grant agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The plant would serve the city of Ashland and surrounding areas.
“Ashland was pretty much at capacity with its current system,” said Boone County Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin.
A sewage treatment plant in the southern part of the county would help meet the needs of a growing community. Ashland’s Web site says the city’s population has doubled in the past 14 years to about 2,600.
One main treatment plant would also be more economical and environmentally friendly than multiple on-site plants, Eftink said.
Associate professor of civil engineering Tom Clevenger said MU got involved with the project because the experience of working hand-in-hand with the developing engineers would be a valuable training opportunity for students.
He also said MU might be a good neutral party that can help coordinate efforts to plan for the treatment plant.
Clevenger’s role will include analyzing water quality.
The study will focus on the Two Mile Prairie, which is surrounded by the Three Creeks watershed to the North and extends east to the Mark Twain National Forest, west along the Bonne Femme Creek and south along the Missouri River. Some of the area’s watersheds are home to endangered species and fill drinking water aquifers.
Associate professors of civil and environmental engineering at MU did a study in 2003 that was proposed to the EPA to determine how the plant can best handle wastewater run-off.
Current treatment facilities lack the capacity to handle more industrial development near Ashland. The 2003 study noted that the county denied a developer’s request in 1997 to build an industrial park by the Columbia Regional Airport.
The agreement for the new study involves only the money required to create plans for the treatment plant. The plant itself could cost millions of dollars, as stated in a study done by Allstate Consultants for the Boone County Commission in 1999. Ultimately, the cost will be paid by the people who use the facility, Elkin said.