Unlike other utilities, adequate sewers are necessary before growth can occur.

Unlike other utilities, adequate sewers are necessary before growth can occur.
That was a point a Lansing city official made Thursday night as he explained options for the city's Seven-Mile Creek action plan. Anthony Zell, wastewater utility director, went over the history, schedule, easements, routes selected and costs for sewer lines that will accommodate potential development in the northwest portion of the city.

After civil engineers were hired in 2012 to determine what would need to be done to expand the capacity of existing sewers, the Lansing City Council in April 2013 delivered an action plan to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Zell said they'd broken the plan into three phases and also picked George Butler Associates to help determine what would need to be done. Because they hadn't met the initial deadline, KDHE granted an extension to April 2015, with the third phase planned for the end of 2016.

The most efficient way to accomplish this was to design all three phases at the same time, Zell said, with probable construction for 2014-2015, so the city can be poised for future growth.

They examined several ways of attacking the problem, including removing and replacing old lines and what he called parallel sewers, where old lines would remain but new lines would be installed nearby. The main disadvantage of this is that it takes more easement, Zell said. Ultimately, they determined a combination of approaches would work best.
Phase one will focus on Main and Connie streets, using parallel alignment and leaving the existing pipes in the ground. This would start south of K-5, go in back of Jayhawk subdivision and go up to Main and Connie, Zell said. This would require going underneath K-7 to make it work.

The second phase would include brand new pipe on the west side of Lansing Correctional Facility and diverting the flow across prison property to the treatment plant. The third phase would begin where the second phase leaves off in the area of the ball fields behind the trailer park and the area with an automotive shop and printing company, among other businesses. Zell said the terrain there created problems installing new lines, so the decision was to go around the north and west side of the ball fields with a new line.

"The goal of the project is to provide for future growth, to keep the city growing," Zell said, noting that it would be funded by the utility itself, relying on user fees, and not impacting the mill levy. As finance director Beth Sanford explained, there would be a bond issue with costs spread over 20 years.

Zell presented five scenarios, ranging from the one that involved the most acres of developable area outside the city limits, with a cost of $6.4 million, to the smallest, that would include only the city limits at a cost of about $5 million. City staff recommended a plan somewhere in the middle, including developable land outside the city limits of 2,200 acres. City council members will vote on it this next week, but there appeared to be a consensus Thursday that this would be the way to go.

Sanford said the annual bond payment would be about $405,000, which could mean adding a $3 debt service fee to sewer bills in the next few years. This would be added to the capital reserve in the fund, which would roll over every year but which would not quite fund the annual payment. As projected, the project would be bonded out at the end of 2015 with the first payment due in 2016.

Council members had several questions, especially as to where the city's projected growth would be and what would happen if the sewer master plan that will begin this spring found lots of additional problems outside the Seven-Mile Creek watershed.

But Council member Don Studnicka said, "We've got problems here that we have to fix first. We have to fix Seven-Mile Creek."
Questioned as to why the master sewer plan shouldn't be done first, Zell said it would take a year to get that done and if the city wants to develop now, it must start taking action. He said there are already problems that could impact future development, though KDHE has allowed reasonable development as long as the action plan is implemented. The longer you wait, he said, the more development will be impacted, since it will take two full construction seasons to make it happen, and costs will also go up during that time.
Council member Andi Pawlowski said she knew it wouldn't get cheaper in the future, but that kind of cost still scares her, so she reserved the right to change her mind.

Mayor Billy Blackwell encouraged council members to consult with Zell and Sanford over the coming week before next Thursday's action item if they had questions.

A number of residents attended Thursday's meeting and asked a few questions --especially in terms of slowing down the process. Council member Tony McNeill noted that the current action plan addresses a high priority and that area has to be fixed, a thought echoed by several other council members.