A year ago, Maryville voters approved a $13.7 million bond issue in order to finance a new government-mandated wastewater treatment plant.
Now, with the clock ticking on a Missouri Department of Natural Resources-imposed completion deadline of July 1, 2015, the time has come to start spending that money on what will be the city's most costly capital improvement project in years.
Earlier this week, the city agreed to purchase nearly 12 acres adjoining the existing wastewater treatment lagoons east of town from landowners Gregory and Miraya Barmann. Most of that land will be used as the site for a new mechanical treatment plant. The remaining 2.8 acres is needed as a temporary construction and grading easement.
The city acquired the real estate, which is prime river bottom farmland, for $165,342. Purchasing the property clears the way for hiring a contractor who is to begin building the plant later this year.
When completed, the facility will replace the city's antiquated lagoon-based system, which no longer meets state and federal standards for removal of ammonia and other pollutants.
City Hall is currently seeking bids from qualified contractors and has set a submission deadline for 2 p.m. Thursday, June 13. Interested builders will be in town at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 23, for a mandatory pre-bid conference.
According to City Manager Greg McDanel, failure to complete the plant prior to next year's deadline could result in substantial fines for failing to meet both federal and state environmental standards.
City officials have been wrestling with the sewer plant issue for more than two years as tougher water quality guidelines were implemented.
An earlier plan to upgrade the existing lagoons with technology reliant on ammonia-eating bacteria proved unfeasible, and the city was forced to fire the project's original engineer for slow progress.
Late in 2011, the City Council hired facilities design firm HDR, which essentially started planning a new plant from scratch after first working out a deal with the government agencies involved to extended the original 2012 deadline.
The bond issue is being financed with a series of increases to water/sewer user fees, which have been raised about 30 percent.