HOISINGTON — After a surprise visit from the Environmental Protection Agency last week, the city of Hoisington has learned that it has significant deficiencies in its treatment of waste water.
City Manager Jonathan Mitchell reported to the city council on Monday that the sewage lagoons have been in place since the early 1980s are significantly underperforming. While the violations were moderate, Mitchell said, “It’s a serious issue we need to address. This is not an emergency situation, and we can correct these and have less impact on the environment.”
The EPA brought five issues to the city. They were:
•Recordkeeping. The city needs to verify date of discharges and retain reports to submitted to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the EPA.
•Reporting. Reports needs to be made monthly, and samples taken if discharges occur.
•Sample holding. The fecal portion of samples must be taken to Salina for testing within six hours if the city discharges.
•Exceeding permit limits.
•Short circuiting of lagoon treatment process. This inhibits effectiveness of the treatment process and does not allow for sufficient retention time. This is the primary issue.
“The lagoons were built for twice the population and are significantly underperforming,” said Mitchell. The lagoons are located south and east of town.
He said the first three issues have been addressed, and that staff have been trained on proper record keeping.
In the past, fecal samples were overnighted to Salina. The EPA informed the city that they must be driven to Salina for testing the same day as they were taken.
The city has only discharged once this year in April. The effluent is discharged into Little Cheney Creek via Cheyenne Bottoms via Blood Creek via an unnamed tributary to the lower Arkansas River basin. There were no discharges last year.
The other issues will require significant funding to correct. Mitchell said that there must be an engineering study to determine the depth of the sludge and disposal options.
Strangely enough, the initial design documents show the correct flow of waste water through the lagoon. However, at some point, the plans were not followed.
Unfortunately, the city will have to raise sewer rates to $26.25 for 5,000 gallon, a 34 percent increase. The current rate for established residential customers is $19.60. The increase in sewer rates is needed to bring the city to the state average so that the city can apply for Community Development Block Grants.
The council voted to implement the increase in November. These rates will show up on the January bill.