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Archive for Thursday, May 6, 2004

Strain on sewers won’t curb southeast growth

May 6, 2004

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More review is needed, but city and county commissioners indicated Wednesday they would allow new development in southeast Lawrence to go forward.

Officials said that before giving their blessing they needed more information about the strain that new development would put on the city's sewage-treatment system.

"My sense is we want to see better numbers," said Douglas County Commission Chairman Charles Jones. "And if the numbers look good, I think we'll probably go ahead ... and open the area for development."

Bill Newsome, whose Eastside Acquisitions LLC partnership wants to build a housing and commercial development southeast of Kansas Highway 10 and O'Connell Road, called the meeting "productive."

"I think it's moving forward," Newsome said of the process. "It's not done by any means ... but it's moving forward in a direction that will benefit the citizens of Lawrence."

The meeting was held because the city's growth is outpacing its ability to treat sewage.

A $46 million upgrade at the city's Kansas River plant, which boosted wastewater treatment capacity from 9 million gallons a day to 12.5 million gallons a day, was supposed to take the city through 2020. Instead, it will reach capacity when the city population reaches 100,000 in 2011, according to current projections. A new plant on the Wakarusa River won't go online until that year at the earliest.

Jones had previously said the city and county might want to restrict development until sewage-treatment capacity could be expanded. A presentation by utility consultants on Wednesday indicated there may be some buffer room, but Jones said he wanted to make sure.






"That's one of the things I want to see, is a better explanation of what the total picture is, in terms of total demand on our wastewater plant," Jones said.

He added: "We just need to make sure we're using our resources wisely."

Matt Schultze agreed. He is a project manager for Black and Veatch, the engineering firm that consults with the city on water and sewage decisions.

"Lawrence is a dynamic city, a growing city," Schultze said. "And the wastewater system needs to reflect changes in demand."

Officials did not give a timeline to get the information commissioners requested.

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