Jesup City Council to consider significant hike in sewer bills
By Kim Edward Adams

The Jesup City Council met in a special work session last Thursday, June 6, to hear a report on potential sewer plant improvements which are now required with the city’s new DNR operations permit.

The city has waited for about two years to get their new operating permit approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, knowing that the new permit would probably require significant changes in the city’s sewer plant operations. The new permit arrived very recently, and yes, the city is faced with making significant and costly changes in their sewer plant operations.

Currently the city uses a lagoon system, which replaced the old sewer plant many years ago. At this time, the council will be looking at what the options will be going forward. What is known, is that the city now has a specific deadline to meet to make those improvements -- October 1, 2023. That’s exactly four years from July 1, 2019.

McClure Engineering provided the report to the council at their work session last week.

Councilman Richard Mott’s first question was direct and to the point. He essentially asked: Is there anything we can do to avoid having an expensive new or renovated treatment facility?

The answer was clear and unequivocal. No, there are no other options.

The next question explored by the council and engineering team present was less easy to answer. How much will it cost?
How much it will cost will depend on a lot of factors that will require time and testing to discover the answer to, before the council can even look at what options can be considered.

At this point, other communities that have recently gone through this process in Iowa have looked at renovating and updating their lagoons, and building new sewer plants that use other means to treat the wastewater generated by Jesup’s residences and businesses. Both options will be looked at in detail if the council decides at their meeting Tuesday, June 18, to proceed with developing a plan. Other similar cities have spent in the range of $5 million to $10 million on their systems in order to meet their new requirements.

The first step will be to hire an engineering firm to take on the project over the next four years. Then there are many more steps to undertake through this process, one of which is figuring out how to finance it. Mayor Larry Thompson is asking the Council to consider a nearly immediate hike in the sewer bills for every one of the 1047 meters in use today. He suggested the council consider a new charge of $20 to $27 per month in additional cost for each meter.

No decisions have yet been made. But this is likely to move forward quickly as the city’s deadline looms.
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