The city of Leavenworth has met a year-end deadline for having a new disinfection system at its wastewater treatment plant.
The facility that uses ultraviolet light to remove E. coli and other bacteria from water treated at the plant is in operation.
"We were testing it after Thanksgiving," said Mike McDonald, public works director for the city.
He said it officially was put into operation in mid December.
The city had been given until the first of the year to have the system in place. McDonald said the city had been meeting the requirements of its old permit. But the new system was being required as part of a new permit.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment required the addition of the system, but city officials have said the regulation originated at the federal level.
McDonald said the price tag for the addition of the facility at the plant was about $4 million.
He said about half of that dollar amount paid for the ultraviolet light bulbs and electrical wiring used for the system.
The city recently increased sewer service fees by 25 percent to help pay for the facility.
McDonald the disinfection facility was constructed at the site of an old chlorination system that was used when the plant opened in 1972.
"They only used it for less than a year," McDonald said of the chlorination system.
He said it was determined that chlorination caused more problems than it solved.
McDonald said the new facility has the largest number of ultraviolet lights of any disinfection system of its kind in a four-state region.
"We didn't set out to be the biggest," he said.
The facility has 1,000 ultraviolet lights and enough expansion room for an additional 500 lights.
"The operation is fairly automated," he said.
The number of ultraviolet lights in use automatically is adjusted as the amount water going through the plant changes.
McDonald said an additional $60,000 has been budgeted for each year to pay for the increased electricity costs associated with the operation of the new facility.
According to officials at the plant, tests indicate the disinfection system is working, dramatically reducing E. coli from the water that's treated at the plant before it is discharged into the Missouri River.
McDonald said the city will hold an open house for the new facility, possibly in February.
"We're going to give the public the opportunity to come and look at this," he said.