Lime sludge issue could be resolved within 10 days

The city’s lime sludge levels are still at a critical stage, but relief may be on the way.
City Administrator Rick Childers told the city’s Finance Committee last night that someone could be in Richmond within 10 days to remove some of the city’s lime sludge from the water plant’s south lagoon.
Councilman Tom Williams asked why no one had been out to remove the sludge when the council was told almost two weeks ago that some needed to be removed immediately.
Childers said it takes time to schedule companies to come out and perform the service.
“It takes time to get it scheduled and we didn’t have time to wait,” Childers said.
City Wastewater Superintendent C.E. Goodall said Chief Water Plant Operator Bill Kidd contacted someone at the Department of Natural Resources and was told the city could temporarily remove some of the sludge from the south lagoon over to the north lagoon to avoid a discharge. Goodall said Kidd performed the quarterly DNR test yesterday and results came back negative for a discharge.
Some councilmember’s are still distraught over the situation. Childers told the council at their last meeting, nearly two weeks ago, the problem had been ignored for more than 25 years.
Williams, who voted in favor of spending an emergency removal of $30,000, said they need to find another solution. The city has been told it will cost about $300,000 to remove all of the sludge.
“We’ve got to do something,” Williams said. “You’re going to have to find something to do besides spend $300,000.”
Childers told the council that the city is out of options with DNR and they will not be willing to work with the city.
“They will never give us anything in writing that says we have 30 seconds left. 20 years is enough,” Childers said. “That’s where you get when you put this stuff off for so long. They are backing away from anything.”
Councilwoman Melissa Miller voted against spending the money and wanted to call a special meeting to look at long-term solutions.
“I just don’t accept that,” she said. “I just don’t know how they can hold that against the city. It’s 20 years of neglect, but now you have people who are actually trying to find a solution.”
Childers and Goodall told councilmembers that they have been exploring solutions for many years. Childers told the council they need to do something or the state will make them do something.
“We are at crisis everyday because the south lagoon is full. It’s an aggravating situation,” Childers said. “Will you accept it when it’s a court order?”
Goodall said leadership in Jefferson City has changed, and so has the focus of DNR. He said indications are that DNR is moving from an environmental assist approach to an enforcement approach. He also said no one would give answers when the city asks for a solution.
“Nobody wants to sit down and tell you, ‘Here’s what you’ve got to do,’” Goodall said.

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