A new plan to dispose of Douglas County's septic waste may not cost taxpayers a dime.
The Eudora City Council this week authorized its city engineer to try his plan to allow septic waste haulers to take loads to the city's wastewater treatment plant.
Engineer Matt Taylor said the plant will start with a single load, and then he will monitor the plant's effluent quality. If there is no negative effect, he said the plant will take single loads on two alternating days and progress to where a little more would be added in subsequent days for a few weeks.
"If at end of the cycle of testing we don't have any problems, I'll go to the council or (County Administrator) Craig Weinaug and report the results, and potentially one of the local haulers could bring in a load on a regular basis," Taylor said.
Eudora City Council member Dan Gregg said the city wants to be sure the plant continues to work properly during the test because the haulers' loads will be more concentrated than regular sewer flows.
"The city of Eudora is still committed to working with the county, as long as it doesn't affect our facility or cost our taxpayers anything," he said. "It has to pay for itself."
The county's original plan for dealing with the septic waste was to build a storage tank and pump at Eudora's wastewater treatment plant for $575,000. A $20 annual fee from septic tank owners would pay for the addition. The county earlier had studied, but left unapproved, the Eudora proposal.
If the new plan works, County Commissioner Jere McElhaney said, haulers will use the treatment plants in Eudora, Baldwin and Lawrence on a rotating basis. He said he wants to avoid charging people the annual fee. Instead, the plants would charge haulers dumping fees. Haulers would pass that cost to their customers.
"We have to figure out a way to dispose of our waste and it might be a matter of all three facilities sharing in the load disposal, and the county won't have to build its own facility," he said.
Baldwin city officials plan to spend $3.4 million and build a 900,000-gallon treatment facility that will be operational by late 2002. It is expected to meet the community's needs for 20 years. Lawrence also is building a $40 million expansion at its plant.
County Commissioner Charles Jones said he hopes the plan works, but he is concerned about the plants' capacities.
"It won't be a permanent solution, but it will be a reasonable solution for seven to eight years if it does work," Taylor said.