A new sewer district could be formed in Camden County as local leaders test the waters in northwest Shawnee Bend to see what the interest level is in switching to a community sewer system from the individual septic tanks now largely in use.
With technical help from Schultz Surveying & Engineering (SSE), Don Hoechstenbach, a business and homeowner in the area, is leading the exploration into the proposed project.
About 606 property owners off of Routes TT and MM were invited by mail to attend a public forum on the proposed sewer district. Over 50 people attended the recent meeting.
As Associate District Commissioner for the area, Cliff Luber was also invited to attend.
"From my perspective, I think the sewer district's a good idea only if it has the support of the homeowners who will be affected," Luber said. "If it's what folks want, I'm on board."
Officials are still in the process of gauging what level of support exists for forming a sewer district.
There have been no significant problems with existing septic systems in the area, according to Luber.
The Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance is supporting the concept of community sewers especially for properties on or near the lakefront.
"It's always better to get wastewater off the shoreline," said LOWA Executive Director Donna Swall.
With the cost to install and properly maintain a septic system over time, it is less costly to just pay a monthly sewer bill, she said, and the turn-key ease of being on a sewer system can also increase property value.
"And number one, a sewer improves and protects water quality," Swall said.
A couple of feet of good soil is needed for the lateral of a septic system to work properly, so the rocky, karst topography prevalent along the lake is not conducive to septic tanks.
The wastewater hits flat rock and rolls into the lake from underground where we cannot see it, which can not only affect the water quality of the lake but also of localized groundwater that may be used as drinking water.
"Sewers just make sense around the shoreline," Swall said.
With the interest level still unclear, the potential service area does not yet have definite boundaries but generally includes the area east of Sunrise Beach and west of Porto Cima.
A map developed by SSE provided by Hoechstenbach shows an outlined area of the proposed district that includes the east side of Lynch Hollow Cove, mainly properties off of Point Lookout Rd. on Route TT; Crane Cove and Lone Oak Point off of Route TT; and most of Davey Hollow Cove off of Route TT and on the western side of Chimney Point Rd. off of Route MM but not including Chimney Point itself. The southern boundary of the proposed district is Route MM.
Page 2 of 2 - With a sewer district, revenue bonds would finance project costs likely with low interest loans through either the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Rural Development (USDARD).
If government-susidized loans are used, it would likely be required that all residents along the sewer mains connect to the system, but with no hook-up fee.
Without a public water system in place first, the sewer would not be metered. Lump sum monthly charges using DNR's average flow predictions would be set instead of a true rate based on metered usage.
At this time, the proposal from SSE and Hoechstenbach estimates a residential sewer of around $60 a month based on USDARD's rule requiring the sewer bill to be 2 percent of the median household income of the area.