Ongoing population growth in Edmond necessitates a $75 million capacity expansion of the city’s waste water treatment plant in coming years, said Kris Neifing, Water Resources superintendent.
“If we don’t have waste water capacity we can’t continue to grow,” Neifing said. “That’s part of the reason we put in rate increases four years ago.”
Funding for the project will come through revenues bonds. City Finance Director Ross VanderHamm said at a recent workshop that more information will be available next year about the timing of revenue bonds to be issued for water and waste water improvements during the next 10-20 years.
“We’ll have to start engineering these projects before we have definitive timelines,” Neifing said. “We just finished the master plan and delivered it to the council in February.”
Every five years the Waste Water Treatment Plant must apply to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality for a new permit. DEQ is requiring the city to remove nitrate from the plant.
“That alone is going to add $18 million in costs,” City Manager Larry Stevens said of the additional cost to the $75 million.
The expense of removing nitrates from city water is not unique to Edmond, Stevens said. All waste water plants in the state will have to comply with the new standard.
Nitrate removal from storm water is to avoid algae blooms in the state, Neifing said.
Water wells are recharged by water going downstream, and all communities are downstream from somebody.
“We don’t want nitrate leeching back into the ground,” Neifing said. “So the more we’re taking out at the wastewater plant, the better off everybody is downstream from us.”
Minimizing yard waste will not resolve the issue, Neifing said. The nitrate pollutant comes from organic matter that cannot be prevented because daily life requires people to flush toilets.
The city staff prepared memo projects $10 million in engineering costs for drainage issues and to work with green infrastructure planning for park and recreational opportunities. This cost is also in addition to the $75 million expansion project, Neifing said.
“We’re discussing with DEQ now and negotiating a timeline. Their initial time frame for us to have this implemented is two years,” Neifing said. “We’re asking for more time because we know we can’t get that done in two years.”