Liberty going out on its own with new wastewater treatment center

12/18/2013 8:05 AM

12/18/2013 12:09 PM

Liberty utility officials say they expect the city’s new wastewater treatment facility to be operational sometime in 2016.

Currently, Kansas City provides wastewater treatment for the Liberty, but rising costs have compelled officials to seek other options, including building a city-owned facility.

“We think we can manage our rates by going out on our own,” said Brian Hess, the city’s utilities director. “We have chosen to take this path because we believe it is more beneficial for the city in the long term and possibly for the region.”

The facility will be built on city-owned land between Old Missouri 210 and Missouri 210, just east of Missouri 291. Once the plant is operational, it will provide wastewater treatment for a minimum of 5.1 million gallons each day, Hess said.

The city is following a recommendation from its utility review task force to conduct a feasility study. Among other ideas, the group suggested the city hire an engineering firm or contractor to review the feasibility for building a treatment facility.

A study was done to estimate the annual increases in costs Kansas City would charge for the treatment services it currently provides Liberty.

“That study indicated that it was advantageous for us to treat our own sewerage,” Hess said.

In August, voters approved a $95 million bond issue to build a wastewater treatment plant and make capital improvements to the wastewater collection system.

Last month, Liberty officials formally alerted Kansas City water officials that it planned to build its own treatment plant.

“While Liberty is a valuable wholesale customer and we would like to continue to serve them, we certainly respect their decision to explore all options in order to make the best decision for their community,” said Jennifer Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the city’s Water Services Department.

Kansas City provides wastewater collection and treatment services to approximately 162,500 customers inside and outside the city. It also has contractual agreements with 28 surrounding communities and sewage districts, Kincaid said.

Also in November, the city hired DesignSense to help city staff oversee the project. Liberty has applied for state funds through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to help finance the project.

The design and construction of the treatment plant will begin early next year. The city will be hiring consultants and other engineering specialists, Hess said.

“We’re just putting our foot through the door,” he said.

One of the potential benefits of building its own treatment plant is that Liberty would be able to serve surrounding Northland communities such as nearby Glenaire and Pleasant Valley. The facility also would help keep pace with the Liberty’s growing population, Hess said.

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