If and when the city builds the new Wakarusa water treatment facility, certain things will travel.
The smell. The flood water.
Monday night, residents got the chance to ask: Where will it all go?
"That water's got to go somewhere," nearby property owner Debra Green said. "Where's it going? On my property?"
The questions flew in an open-house style meeting Monday night when city staff and consultants from Black & Veatch explained the project so far and listened to residents' concerns.
The proposed treatment plant site - whittled down from seven possible sites north and south of the river - would sit on about 530 acres bound by the Wakarusa River and Coal Creek on the north and east, and by East 1600 Road on the west. The southern boundary would fall between North 1175 and North 1100 roads.
The city would acquire the land currently owned by four different residents, which is farmland rather than homes. The estimated cost at the site is about $80 million, with a deadline of 2011.
"We're committed to making this project meaningful," acting City Manager David Corliss said. "We want to be a good neighbor."
Mike Orth, the project director for Black & Veatch, then went over the details of why they chose the site over another site west of U.S. Highway 59 and south of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Orth also expressed some of the same concerns as residents, considering the proposed site would sit squarely in the Wakarusa River floodplain.
"There are some significant concerns, and rightly so, with flooding along the Wakarusa River," Orth said.
After a brief explanation covering why that site was chosen - lower cost, better gravity flow and existing infrastructure among them - Orth and other Black & Veatch consultants opened the floor into three concern areas: flooding, smell and property acquisition.
The 20-or-so residents and property owners at the meeting split up among the three posts, asking questions about how the project would affect their land.
The prospect of farmlands and homes flooding drew heavy concern.
The proposed plant would pump about 7 million gallons of sewage per day at the onset. But down the road, the total could be much more. The construction of the facility and infrastructure will raise river levels somewhat, officials said Monday.
Green, whose property sits at 1670 N. 1100 Road, said the facility would displace too much water and create hazards for nearby residents.
Orth understood the problem but wasn't yet sure what steps the city would take.
"We have to mitigate that effect," he said.
There are options, including replacing the lost ground in the floodplain, improving the channel flow and excavation in the area. Some of those would have environmental impacts, Orth said.
The smell also was a concern for residents, who questioned if the city would eventually dump waste on the buffer around the site.
But Black & Veatch staff said instead, the waste would likely be shipped to the existing wastewater facility on East Eighth Street, where they have equipment to help dispose of it.
City staff and others took note of residents' concerns at the meeting and will transcribe them for city commissioners before they make a decision on the site.