THAYER -- Just days after a representative from Sen. Claire McCaskill's office, Christy Farrell, met with the Thayer City Council regarding state or federal help to upgrade the water and sewer system in the city, McCaskill sent out a news release showing her and six other senators were working on some relief for town's such as Thayer.
Thayer was recently mandated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to upgrade the water and sewer system in the city by 2011. Councilmen said the cost of such a project would be approximately $4 million.
City officials said there are several problems with the city's water and sewer system. "It is not large enough. It was contracted over 25 years ago with DNR. Our city has outgrown its capability and it is just worn-out," said alderman Al Clark.
Alderman Mike Harber also mentioned that when the area has excessive rain, like has occurred this past year, there is always a problem. "It is called I and I, inflow and infiltration. When we receive heavy rain we just don't have the capability to deal with it.
As Congress and the Obama administration craft an economic recovery package, the senators called for $5 billion Jan. 23 to help communities renovate outdated water and sewer systems. They said the project combined sewage overflow (CSO) systems.
Ferrell met with the council at Thayer City Hall Jan. 21.
"In addition to strengthening the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), we believe that there is also a serious need for a dedicated $5 billion combined CSO grant program," wrote the senators in a letter sent to the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. "Making these investments now will create jobs, ensure long-term economic competitiveness, affirm our commitment to clean water, and help shield taxpayers from increasing costs," she said.
CSOs move both wastewater and storm water through the same sewage system. In the event of a storm or excessive rain, CSOs cannot handle both human wastewater and storm runoff at the same time. As a result, nearly one billion gallons of raw sewage from CSOs puts public health at-risk and undermines the commitment to environmental quality. This is a portion of the problem the city of Thayer has had with their water and sewer system.
"Municipalities are already grappling with how to pay for upgrades and repairs to their aging wastewater infrastructures in the face of population growth and increased regulatory requirements," said Ken Kirk, executive director at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. "At the same time, they are being told they must spend billions more to reduce the number of combined sewer overflows. The federal government should step in and help theses communities directly by providing financial assistance to address these challenges."
Federal guidelines require municipalities to renovate these outdated systems to protect human health and the environment, but upgrades are often to costly for many small communities such as Thayer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), communities across the nation face an estimated $50 billion in need for CSO renovations. These projets represent more than 25 percent of all wastewater needs reported in the most recent EPA needs survey.