Springfield, MO

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City's phosphorous-removal plan to receive federal funds

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Springfield now has a plan to raise $5 million for a phosphorous removal project for the 70 percent of its wastewater flow that is not being treated for phosphorous removal.

At an upcoming meeting, City Council will vote on a proposed ordinance that will raise sewer rates 4.5 percent over a period of five years, starting with a 0.5 percent increase and then a 1 percent increase for four successive years.

Though the proposed ordinance will not be on the agenda for the Oct. 12 council meeting, Councilwoman Teri Hacker said it should be on the agenda for the following meeting.

The city may also receive federal funds for its phosphorous-removal project.

Sen. Christopher Bond announced Oct. 6 that he had secured final approval of $1 million in funding for the Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant. The funding is included in the fiscal year 1999 appropriations for the Environmental Protection Agency, which is funded by a subcommittee Bond serves on. A Senate/House Conference Committee gave the project final approval.

Hacker said she is ecstatic to have support from Bond for the phosphorous-removal project. Right now, the city is conducting a $1.5 million modeling project for the 70 percent of the city's wastewater flow that uses a pure-oxygen treatment system.

The city already has phosphorous-removal equipment on the 30 percent of its wastewater flow that does not use the pure-oxygen system, said Bob Schaefer, assistant director of Public Works. Schaefer said the $1 million from the feds will be applied to the project, but the city is not yet sure how. It may be that 1 percent of the increase in sewer rates can be removed.

Schaefer said the modeling project will continue until the end of 1998, when the city will begin looking at designing a program. The city expects to take bids on the phosphorous-removal project by the end of 1999, he added.

Right now, there is not a phosphorous limit on Table Rock Lake, which is the water body ultimately receiving most of Springfield's discharge. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is looking at developing a phosphorous rule for the lake, and Springfield wants to be prepared for that possibility, Schaefer said.

Hacker added that the city is looking to improve its overall water quality and to preserve the quality of the lakes in the area.

Schaefer said no one industry contributes to phosphorous levels any more than any other. Though area businesses are required to monitor their own waste, there are no restrictions on discharge for individual industries or businesses, Schaefer said.

"We don't think there should be restrictions on individuals before we, as a city, have a limit," Schaefer said.

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