Cheers erupted at the Rocky Mount Lion's Club Wednesday night when the Rocky Mount Sewer District announced that effluence from a wastewater treatment facility will not drain into Blue Spring Creek as originally planned.
The blueprint for the first phase of a six-phase sewer district plan for the north shore of the Lake of the Ozarks called for an extended-aeration wastewater treatment facility behind the Dollar General in Rocky Mount. The facility would have dumped as much as 75,000 gallons of effluence per day into the creek. Landowners along the creek — who are not included in the sewer district as a result of a 2003 vote — protested the effluence plan by addressing the sewer district board, petitioning the plan with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and reaching out to various environmental organizations.
Their efforts to eliminate the effluence in the creek have paid off. The sewer district asked Schultz Surveying and Engineering, their engineering firm, to draw up plans that would divert the effluence away from the creek, over the hill and into the Lake of the Ozarks.
"We don't really want to go to battle with the people on Blue Spring Creek," Judy Kenworthy, Rocky Mount Sewer District treasurer, said following a public hearing in conjunction with DNR Wednesday.
The end goal, according to Kenworthy, is the complete relocation of the facility away from the creek headwaters.
"I am very glad," Donna Skanes, a co-chairperson of the Committee to Save Blue Spring Creek, said of the decision. "And I hope they find a place for a new plant."
Because of a lucrative funding package, including $3 million in grants and a $1 million loan, time is running out to select a new property and create new facility plans — all of which will need to be approved again along with a new water quality and anti-degradation review. Construction originally was slated to begin before June 30 or risk the penalty of funding loss.
"Hopefully they [the DNR] will give us an extension of 90 days," Kenworthy said.
According to Kenworthy and board president Red Jennings, the board is in the process of looking at potential properties closer to the lake.
Blue Spring Creek is considered a "losing" stream, according to Sherri Stoner, a geologist with DNR, meaning the stream loses 30% of it's volume to the underlying aquifer. The original proposed facility was designed with the most stringent regulations to protect the water since a large percent is lost to the bedrock.
Should the board decide on a lakeshore location for the facility, less stringent water regulations are required because the lake is not a "losing" body of water.
Although most of the large crowd celebrated the announcement to divert effluence, the issue is far from dead.
Page 2 of 2 - "We care about the lake too," Skanes said. "I think we're going to stay on top of this."
In a portion of public comment, resident Chris Miller suggested that the public reviews multiple options for facilities before the board makes a decision.
"We want a Cadillac, not a Chevy," Miller said, referencing the quality of the treatment facility.
Kenworthy echoed that sentiment, saying that although the regulations are not as strict for a lakeside location, the board would like to apply the most stringent regulations for water quality wherever the facility is located.
A commenting period on the revised treatment facility plan will end on 5 p.m. Feb. 1 and can be submitted to the Rocky Mount Sewer District, P.O. Box 920, Rocky Mount, MO 65072.