City ponders plans for sewers, flood control and dam repairs

By Dennis Minich

During a work session following its regular meeting Monday night, the Harrisonville Board of Aldermen was informed of a finance plan which could be used to help ease flooding in the area along with the repairing the quickly degenerating dam and spillway at Lake Luna in City Park.

The idea is to combine the projects into a bond issue with other projects already on the drawing boards, primarily the upgrading of the sewer treatment plant which must be finished by Dec. 31, 2021.

The idea, which received support from the board, will call for a $10.6 million bond issue for the sewer fund. The city will already be facing bonds of nearly $4 million for the sewer plant, including installation of UV filtration systems required by the federal government.

Under the proposed plan, $2.65 million would be used to replace the spillways at Lake Luna and City Lake, repair the dams on both lakes, dredge Lake Luna and build a dry detention basin which would help stop flood waters on the city’s south side, an area which has suffered three major floods in recent years.

The remainder of the money would go to eliminate the sewer packing plant near the Walmart Distribution Center and running new sewer lines to the facility, which would allow connections at other businesses, such as Sapp Brothers as well.

Although the sewer plans have been in the works for about a year, City Administrator Brad Ratliff said the deterioration of the spillways at Lake Luna have increased the need for quick action. The dam has sustained serious damage and an independent engineer said the situation is serious and should be addressed no later than 2021.

“I asked (city engineer) Ted (Martin) if he could guarantee that if we had another five-inch rain, the dam on Lake Luna would hold. He said no,” Ratliff said. “The Corps of Engineers have told us if the dam breaches, it will flood the entire town.”

Mayor Judy Bowman said, “The can has been kicked down the road for too many years and it has been kicked to us. If the dam breaches we won’t have time to evacuate the town. We would be talking minutes before it is entirely flooded.”

The city has had concerns about the lakes and Ratliff said all of the plans could go into one bond issue because storm sewers are one of the leading contributors to the sanitary sewer system. Much of the water flows directly to the wastewater plant or through water that gets into homes and buildings.

“We are paying a lot of money to treat clean water at the sewer plant,” Martin

Ratliff said anytime you discuss rate increases, people are not going to like it and that things like UV filtering and wastewater are things people don’t really think about. But he said by combining the retention area and fixing the lake problems, people will be able to physically see where their money is going.

Most of the aldermen seemed agreeable with the plan except for David Dickerson who objected to the $3 million for the sewer lines to the Walmart Distribution Center area. Alderman Clint Miller expressed concerns that Walmart is going to stay in its current location, but was told the plant is being updated with more than $1 million in new equipment, but Ratliff said he would meet with officials to gauge their plans.

The board was told by Ben Hart of Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors that bonds are currently paying about 2.6 percent range. It is expected that if the plan is approved, sewer bills would increase between 3 and 5 percent. The board was already scheduled to hear the results of a rate structure study next month.