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City, National Beef discuss water treatment plant options PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 January 2018 12:08


• Leader & Times

After many years, it seems there will soon be some definitive steps taken to build a new wastewater treatment plant in Liberal. 

“Like I advised the other day, the city commission had already voted on a standalone plant,” Interim City Manager Cal Burke began during a special meeting Wednesday afternoon. “I expect this will be on the agenda again Tuesday and I’ll have a little more detail about what was voted on with that. I also explained to them you have approached us with a potential Plan B as far as it’s feasible to do so and how we can go about exploring that.”

Steve Thompson of National Beef then began his remarks. 

“First and foremost, I want to thank you guys for allowing us to come in and talk to you about this project we’ve been working on,” Thompson said. “We had worked with the previous administration as well as other counsel. What we have today is a proposal for a regional plant plus information about the standalone complex and the numbers we’d received from the city several months ago. These are items we’ve prepared so we want to walk you through what we’ve got. We want you all to know we think this is a very viable option and we hope you guys do too but at the end of the day, this decision is in the hands of you commissioners.”

David Kalscheur with National Beef then began talking about some of the numbers associated with the projects to the commissioners. 

“When the regional plant idea came into focus, we were on two parallel paths through most of 2016,” Kalscheur said. “Then there were some events that happened with the sewer rates and things that affected the City and National Beef enough for us to think a regional plant makes some sense, so we started this idea late July, early August of 2016 to look at treatment options. So that’s what brought about that mindset.”

“With Pete designing everything, it will be built brand new and the old plant would be abandoned,” Burke said. “With the combined plant, we’d be rehabilitating our old facility in addition to adding new fixtures.”

“That’s correct and we would even say by rehabilitating and repurposing parts of the current plant there would be a savings of $2.5 million versus building brand new, at least from what our numbers are saying,” Thompson said. “That’s very preliminary but the driving force for us is to make this as economical as possible for both entities, and this is something we thought about.”

A side-by side comparison of the options for a standalone City of Liberal plant versus a combined wastewater treatment plant for the City of Liberal and National Beef was then shown to the commissioners and the others in attendance. According to the handout given at the meeting, the City of Liberal standalone plant would treat the city’s domestic sewage flow of approximately 1.7 to 2.5 millions of gallons of water per day. The treated water from the standalone facility, the handout continued, would be discharged to the Cimarron River through the Arkalon Wetlands area under a river discharge permit issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, with a small portion also being used to irrigate the city golf course and park areas. The handout also showed the preliminary costs of construction plus the first year’s operation of the standalone plant would be $24,229,972. It was also noted the City of Liberal has secured state revolving loan funding (SRF) to construct the standalone place and the SRF funds have an interest rate of 2.11 percent, which is not included in the simple costs analysis in the handout. The use of these SRF funds would require complying with the Davis Bacon Wage Act and the American Iron and Steel Act, which with KDHE requirements could add 15 to 30 percent more to the construction costs. 

The combined plant would treat the city’s domestic sewage flow of approximately 1.7 to 2.5 millions of gallons of water per day along with the processed water from the National Beef plant, which is approximately 3.3 to 4 millions of gallons of water per day. The treated water from the combined plant, the handout noted, would be stored in McCoid Lake and then used for crop irrigation on fields north of Tucker Road. A small portion of the treated water would be further treated to meet Cimarron River discharge limits and sent to the Arkalon Wetlands area at approximately 300,000 gallons per day. The handout noted again the City of Liberal has secured SRF money for the standalone plant and the city would issue Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRB) that would be used for construction would have a 3.5 percent interest rate on city-borrowed money and 5.71 percent on money given to National Beef. The IRB funding, the handout continued, would not require complying with the Davis Bacon Wage Act and the American iron and Steel Act, thus letting the city select a bidder that could ultimately save money on the project’s construction costs. The combined plant would be taken care of by the City and National at a 30/70 split and with the preliminary construction and first year’s operation costs for the combined plant coming in at $49,400,000 (which Kalscheur said had actually been slightly overestimated to account for potential unknowns), the city’s total for the combined plant would be approximately $16,013,650. 

Kalscheur then talked about some other KDHE restrictions regarding wastewater treatment. 

“The EPA is mandating states put out much tighter limits and the two biggest nutrients of concern are nitrogen and phosphorous,” Kalscheur said. “Any continued discharge into the Cimarron River has to meet those new limits, so you have those in place for plants and treating nitrogen is a lot easier than treating phosphorous. And word’s going around they’re going to be cracking down on ammonia too.”

The meeting continued for many more minutes with commissioners asking several questions of their own regarding potential scenarios (including should National Beef ever shut down or be sold to another mother company), who would be in charge of maintenance and cleaning out the wastewater treatment ponds and what items should be in the contract eventually approved by the commission. Overall, the commissioners considered the meeting extremely productive and thanked the National Beef representatives for making their presentation before adjourning. 




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