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Half of the city’s liquid lime sludge problem is solved for now, but that’s it.
The city council took no action on a contract that would remove all of the city’s liquid lime sludge.
The company is already in town removing half of the sludge and proposed removing the remaining amount with payment deferred until October.
The city approved a contract last month to spend $30,000 on the removal from an emergency fund. The additional $30,000 it would take to complete the job would come out of next year’s water budget.
City Administrator Rick Childers and Wastewater Superintendent C.E. Goodall have been telling the council since last September that the lime sludge was becoming an issue until the problem became “critical” last month.
Childers said the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has been on the city’s case for years to do something about the issue. Goodall said he has been told by city staff the problem has been piling up for more than 20 years. Water Plant Chief Operator Bill Kidd said last month that removal of sludge has not been performed in 10 years.
“I would say city staff is extremely, urgently requesting you approve this item,” Childers said about approving the removal of all of the sludge.
Councilwoman Melissa Miller said she is already concerned about the city’s emergency budget and voted against spending the initial $30,000 for removal. She also asked how long it takes to fill up a lagoon.
Childers said at some point the city needs to address the water problems, not only with sludge but waterlines as well. He said money was in the budget last year to do both and a rate increase that was defeated by the council forced city staff to take it out.
“The condition of the waterlines are not going to get better until they’re replaced,” Childers said. “You have an old system that is wearing out and continually fighting the battle of do you dig a place that’s been patched five times and patch it for a sixth time makes no sense.”
Goodall said the city is in line with chlorine residuals right now, but that could change anytime as long as the lagoons have lime sludge in them.
“There’s going to come a point where we are not [in compliance] and, I don’t know how long removing half of its going to take care of the problem,” Goodall said.
Councilwoman Beverly Gorham said she is concerned about a court order being handed down to the city. Goodall said he did not know if it was likely, but said the possibility exists.