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Orrick’s city council hopes some prompt maintenance will save the city future Missouri DNR entanglements.
Pending some background and reference checks, the council appears poised to award Hudson, Iowa, firm NutraJet Systems a $33,000 bid to perform sludge removal on the city’s wastewater treatment lagoon.
The Iowa firm won out over the runner-up, Kansas City’s Ace Pipe Cleaning, in part because Ace pledged a $375 per-hour fee, while NutraJet guaranteed a flat fee that includes removal to DNR and EPA specifications, disposing of the materials and filing all necessary paperwork on behalf of the city, according to councilman Todd Wyse.
Though Orrick isn’t presently a DNR violator, Public Works Director Ed Sherwood suggested the city risked it if it went a great deal longer without better maintenance. In the plant’s 25-year existence, this will be its first lime-sludge removal.
Sherwood warned the council Thursday evening that there’s the potential for things to get out of hand, if the DNR were to ever turn the problem over to the Attorney General’s office. That could happen, Sherwood said, if health issues arises downstream in another water supply and investigators found Orrick’s treatment lagoon to be at fault.
“You’re going from fines to criminal infractions,” Sherwood told the council. Those fines could reach as much as $10,000 a day for each day the lagoon isn’t cleaned up, he said.
“That can bankrupt a city with that,” he said. He added other cities – declining to name names – have experienced similar repercussions for improperly performed sludge removal.
The city is on a tight timeline – within the next month, according to Sherwood’s recommendations – to complete the project before disposing of the material after its removal disrupts the planting season for growers next to the lagoon.
That also gives the city a short time to work out in its budget how it will fund the removal. Council members Thursday evening briefly discussed putting in for a bond.
“If your (sewer) rates are high enough, they’re going to say ‘You can handle this yourself’,” Sherwood explained. City attorney Kevin Baldwin also called the fast turn-around time it would take to establish such a bond in conjunction with the immediate situation “impossible.”
Still, Sherwood let the council in on a bright side: He indicated this sludge removal could buy the city around 15 years before it needs another such procedure. Afterwards, he suggested he could explore natural means of reducing the sludge’s build-up.
Though Sherwood told the council NutraJet is in the Missouri Rural Water directory and comes bearing a DNR recommendation, Wyse insisted the council hold a public meeting sometime within the next month with NutraJet representatives.
“I don’t want to hire somebody I’ve never seen before,” Wyse said. Sherwood added “This won’t wait another month.”
Councilman Jim Eubank expressed curiosity to know how NutraJet handles billing for unexpected occurrences on the job.
“They can at least tell us how they’re going to deal with the ‘what-ifs’,” he said.

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