Fulton to Decide Who Pays for Wastewater Plant Renovations

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FULTON- Areas of Stinson Creek that fall downstream from the Fulton Wastewater Treatment Facility are now some of 90,000 miles of stream water being mandated for disinfection by the EPA and Department of Natural Resources.

The new regulations by the Federal EPA and Missouri DNR call for areas of the creek to become clean enough for "full-body contact," which means that residents can swim and fish in the creek safely.

The new regulations demand that the water the wastewater treatment facility dumps into the creek have its ammonia levels reduced before the water is discharged through the stream.

Greg Hayes, engineer of the wastewater plant, said the EPA was originally calling for the water in the creek to be cleaner than the drinking water in most areas of Missouri, but that the regulations were not practical.

Hayes said trying to renovate the plant to that point would leave the city bankrupt.

Mayor Leroy Benton said the new regulations aren't the only thing driving the repairs to the facility.

"It's a combination of regulations becoming more stringent, along with the aging of the plant," Benton said.

However, the plant is still in need of $13 million worth of repairs, which Fulton residents will decide on where the money will come from in this April's bond election.

If citizens vote "yes" on the bond election, the money will come from the state's revolving loan fund, a low-interest loan alloted to the city from the state's budget.

If the citizen's vote "no," the money will come from an increase in utility rates by up to 40 cents per gallon, which Mayor Leroy Benton describes as a "substantial" increase.

Hayes said the renovations are extremely important to the plant, despite the fact that citizens might not even notice the benefit of the repairs.

"As a citizen, you probably won't notice a huge benefit," Hayes said, "for most infrastructure you don't. You don't know where your water comes from until you have a waterline break."

Regardless of what the citizen's vote in next April's election, the project is set to be complete in 2016.

Fulton City Council members are currently holding public forums to inform citizen's on the repairs. They also want to inform citizens on how the final project is funded.