Officials in Eldon know the city's wastewater treatment plant needs to be updated and expanded. The ongoing question is how much.
MECO Engineering is conducting a study to determine the existing wastewater treatment plant facility's average flow rate and how much it can handle during peak flows. The study is funded through a $50,000 Small Community Engineering Assistance Program grant through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Senior Engineer Byron Shaw said the company has found inaccuracies in existing data collected on the flow rates. It will be at least three to six months before he has enough data to begin determining the city's wastewater treatment needs. He said the DNR wants data to be collected for a year to study a range of weather, from wet to dry spells.
"Hopefully, we will have enough data where we can make a distinct determination on what the peaks are verses what the average flow is," Shaw said. "We really don't know (the peak flow rate)."
The existing facility is designed to meet Eldon's current permit of 1 million gallons per day (MGD) and is capable of handling peak flows of 4-5 MGD. Previously collected data showed the plant was operating at 1.05 MGD with peak flows of 10 MGD or more. "But we had to put in (new) flow meters, because we started finding that data was not right," Shaw said.
Two of the new meters are located in upstream manholes and another at the effluent of the plant, just prior to discharge point. Shaw said it is possible Eldon's true MGD is higher or lower than previously reported, which officials will need to know to determine what will be required of an updated plant.
"The city is talking about moving up to a 2 million-gallon-per-day plant, at least that was their initial indication to change their design to that," Shaw said. "With this data that we will be collecting, we will be able to tell better if we should go less than that. I wouldn't think we would want to go more than that."
Shaw said the full cost of the project cannot be determined until after the study is complete, but estimated a completely new facility could cost $15-20 million.
"I want to use as much of the existing (plant as possible), even though some of the equipment is going to have to be replaced, because their equipment is old," Shaw said. "It's failing, they are having to replace a lot of it, and so it's time to upgrade that."
Under new permit requirements, the operation will also need to add a disinfection system and limit copper levels. Shaw said Eldon likely will implement UV disinfection and attempt to reduce copper within the collection system.
Eldon City Administrator Debbie Feeback said Eldon will begin budgeting for the project once the MECO data report is complete. Eldon's 2018 budget shows an estimated surplus of $57,062, and the city may seek additional grants to help generate funds but will not know how much money needs to be amassed until the project expenses have been estimated and compared against Eldon's budget at that time.
Eldon Alderman Larry LaDuke said the city's finances have improved with increased revenue from sales taxes, but city officials soon will have to work together to establish funding for the wastewater treatment project.
"In all honesty, our financials are finally turning more positive," LaDuke said. "But (the wastewater treatment plant) is going to be a huge issue for Eldon one of these days. If our plant is running at capacity, we have no room to grow."