A recent study of the city of Seymour’s sewer system by Toth & Associates of Springfield found problems. Lots of them.
“Quite frankly, a lack of infrastructure investment over several decades is the reason you’re in the condition that you’re now in,” Matt Miller, an engineer with Toth, told the Seymour Board of Aldermen at the group’s regular meeting last Thursday.
“There are several things that need to be fixed. You need a plan. A long-term plan, one that will even the expense out over time, is the only thing you can afford.”
And if the city doesn’t implement the plan?
“I just don’t think that’s an option,” Miller said.
The 55-page Toth report, complete with charts and maps, noted that a majority of Seymour’s wastewater system was constructed in the 1940s, with several substantial improvements made to the city’s collection system in the 1990s.
Three phases of improvements were suggested.
Phase 1 improvements consist of the replacement of the existing Lift Station B with a new submersible-pump duplex lift station.
The price tag is $400,000.
Phase 2 improvements consist of the replacement of the existing Lift Station C and Lift Station D with a single new submersible-pump duplex lift station and the rehabilitation of Lift Station F with new valves, controls, pumps and generator.
Cost for those improvements is $935,000.
Phase 3 improvements consist of the rehabilitation of the existing Lift Station E with new valves, controls, pumps and generator.
That cost is $290,000.
The total cost for all three phases, which would be done over a 40-year period, is $1,625,000.
Under the Toth plan, Phase 1 would begin in the 2022 fiscal year and continue until 2042, Phase 2 starts in 2027 and continues through 2047, while Phase 3 begins in 2039 and ends in 2059.
Miller suggested that the city pay for the needed improvements with loan financing through the State Revolving Fund (SRF), which is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Loan funds are available through the SRF for roughly 33 percent of the prime rate; currently, interest is about 1.5 percent via the SRF.
Additionally, Miller suggested that the city cover its cost for the sewer improvements by annually raising its sewer rates by 4.5 percent.
The message brought concerned looks from all four of the aldermen.
“That’s going to be a hard message to deliver,” North Ward Alderman William Pogue said.
“Yes, it will,” South Ward Alderman Dan Wehmer added.
“We just raised water rates last fall. That didn’t go over well with the public.”
“And how long had it been since you raised those rates?” Miller asked.
“Forty years,” Wehmer responded. “We hadn’t had any increase since 1979.”
“That’s the problem,” Miller said. “Your costs increase every year. The rates have to match that.”
Miller noted that the city’s current lift stations range in age from being built in the late 1970s to 1995.
“You’ve not built a new one in almost 25 years,” he said.
“Some of (the lift stations) are more than 40 years old. The city hasn’t done preventative maintenance or replaced them as they should have done for decades.
“That’s now caught up with you. Realize that I’m just the messenger here. You don’t have to do anything.”
“And if we don’t?” Wehmer asked.
“Then there will be problems ... probably sooner than later,” Miller responded.
City Supervisor Mitch Plummer noted that the city’s lift station on Ventura Drive, currently being rebuilt at a cost of nearly $150,000, has been “holding on by a thread” for many months.
“It’s been down several times ... we’re on the third motor,” Plummer said. “Here before long, that’s where we’re going to be with several of our lift stations.”
Also included in the Toth plan was the rehabilitation of the city’s sewer-collection system, which includes the inspection and repair of the city’s gravity sewer system.
Also scheduled over 20 years, inspection and cleaning, as well as remediation, of all of the city’s sewer lines, most of them 75 years old, has a price tag of $946,235.77.
Work on that project, Miller said, should begin in the upcoming 2020 fiscal year. Loan money wouldn’t be needed to finance the project; the cost would be covered if the city raised its sewer rates by 4.5 percent annually.
“Not a one-time hike of 4.5 percent, you’re talking about 4.5 percent every year, correct?” Wehmer asked.
“Yes,” Miller said.
“That would be required to cover the cost of the needed remediation of those old lines.”
Discussion on Seymour’s sewer system lasted more than 30 minutes at Thursday’s meeting.
In the end, the aldermen all agreed that action would have to be taken soon.
“We don’t have a choice,” North Ward Alderman Jim Ashley said.
“No, we really don’t,” Pogue agreed.
Crisp and Wehmer also said the sewer work proposed by Toth was necessary.
When all of the Toth projects are added together, updating Seymour’s sewer system will cost more than $2.5 million.
All of the aldermen said they would review the “Wastewater System Facility Plan” each was presented and would be ready to make a decision on implementation of the plan at the group’s next meeting.