DNR requiring upgrades to 10 Fruitland-area wastewater systems

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is requiring upgrades to 10 Fruitland-area wastewater treatment facilities, with officials pointing to problems that range from a need for disinfection to total overhauls.

And in the coming months at least a dozen other systems that mostly serve residential subdivisions will need to make costly changes before state operating permits are issued.

The department provided a list Wednesday for 10 compliance upgrades, including seven subdivisions, a private business, an Interstate 55 rest area and North Elementary School.

In an emailed response to questions, department spokeswoman Renee Bungart said 14 others not on a so-called schedule of compliance will most likely have one during the next permit cycle -- all most likely for excessive ammonia amounts.

Schedules of compliance are issued after routine inspections unearth problems. Timelines are set for the changes to be made to comply with federal and state regulations that largely stem from the Clean Water Act.

Some residents are upset about having to pay for the upgrades out of their own pocket. Christine Jones, who lives in the Bretz Subdivision just outside of Fruitland, is having to pay about $10,000 -- along with the subdivision's eight other homeowners -- to replace their single-cell sewage lagoon with an above-ground system.

"It really threw us all in an uncertain financial future out here," she said. "I've launched a fight, but I haven't gotten too far."

She and her neighbors were given three years in April 2009 to replace the lagoon or they would face thousands of dollars in fines, she said. The replacement will cost $67,500 in total.

Jones has had to refinance her home to pay her share and she said she hasn't been given a straight answer about why their system needs to be replaced.

The Bretz Subdivision's single-cell lagoon has a permitted flow of 3,700 gallons per day and doesn't comply with current design standards, Bungart said. The lagoon is struggling to meet bacteria standards and will not meet future ammonia limits, she said.

"If it has too much ammonia or too much bacteria, it doesn't function properly," Bungart said.

While Jones says she'd like some public assistance for her treatment facility, Bungart said it's not eligible for state or federal assistance because it's privately owned.

The subdivision hired Koehler Engineering to design its facility. Owner Chris Koehler said single-cell lagoons discharge into nearby streams and that the system he's designing will be a nondischarging system. In simple terms, the system he's designing will be a 3,000-gallon septic tank that will treat the waste through a series of filters and piping.

"Fruitland has all kinds of problems with their wastewater," Koehler said.

Koehler also worked on a similar system upgrade to replace North Elementary School's septic lagoon.

Other private entities going through the compliance procedure now are Clover Hill Estates, Frontier Food Mart, Spring Lake Estates and Essex Place Subdivision (all for disinfection issues); Forest Meadows Subdivision (leakage); and Cedar Meadows Subdivision (too much chlorine).

The others that will likely see compliance issues, almost all of them for excessive ammonia, include Homestead Place, Major Custom Cable, Midwest Energy, Mulberry Acres LLC, Please Lake Estates, Saxony Lutheran High School, VIP Industries, Weiss Mobile Home Community, the city of Pocahontas, Rapco International, Sun Valley Estates and Tamarac Estates.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Fruitland, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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