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A study paid for by the city of Eureka and performed by Bartlett & West shows that reverse osmosis (RO) is more costly to build and operate than Missouri American Water estimates connecting to the St. Louis County system would be, without any guarantee that the water would be as high-quality. RO systems are expensive, labor and maintenance intensive, have high on-going operating costs, and may not completely resolve all of the water quality concerns. For these reasons, Missouri American Water and Eureka city leaders believe connecting Eureka to the County’s high-quality water system is the best and most economical option.
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No, the pipeline project is still in the research and preliminary design phase.
One of the three proposed routes would extend down Highway 109 near the Emerald Forest subdivision, but no final route has been selected yet. Here is a map of the proposed routes based on preliminary research done by Missouri American Water. The pipeline installation is estimated to begin in mid-2021 and be completed in mid- to late-2022.
Yes, once the pipeline is complete Eureka residents and businesses will receive the same high-quality water supplied to Wildwood and the rest of St. Louis County. For comparison, Eureka averages about 800 mg/L for Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), while Missouri American Water’s system in St. Louis County averages 170-300 mg/L for TDS. TDS measures the mineral content of the water. You can view Missouri American Water’s most recent water quality reports online.
The water towers serving Eureka will continue to operate and hold the water after the change in water source is made. Missouri American Water will perform extensive flushing of Eureka’s distribution system when the change is made.
Missouri American Water provides reliable water service in a variety of challenging areas, including the hilly Branson area in southwest Missouri. Our operations and engineering teams work to provide all of our customers with adequate pressure. If the pump house is currently owned by the City, then Missouri American Water would assume ownership and maintenance responsibilities if the sale is approved. If it is owned by the subdivision or homeowners’ association, then that entity would continue to own and operate the pump.
No, Missouri American Water believes it best serves communities by owning and investing in the water and sewer systems it operates.
The City considered this option but did not pursue it due to the significant debt the city would need to take on to build a new pipeline to Wildwood and improve other parts of the drinking water system. This debt would have been in addition to the capital needed to finance sewer system improvements to maintain regulatory compliance.
Missouri American Water is planning to hire five full-time public works employees from the City of Eureka.
Yes. Missouri American Water works with St. Louis County to administer the Cross-Connection Control program in St. Louis County. Upon acquiring Eureka’s water system, our Cross-Connection team will meet with the County to assess the status of the program and determine what actions need to be taken.
Bartlett and West indicated that one potential way to improve the quality of water in the well serving the Legends was to bring it to a shallower depth. However, while this could improve the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) level, potential downsides included reduced water pressure and volume, which could result in service issues for residents. The board considered hiring a contractor to test this theory, along with other options such as taking the Legends’ well offline entirely and filling the nearby tank with water from another well, which could also reduce the volume of water available. The city did not move forward with these proposals for three reasons: 1) After studying the city’s rate structure, it was determined that there was not enough funding to do the studies and tests to determine if the projects would be successful, or to complete the future work. 2) The city did not want to continue to spend money on the water system prior to providing the public with the option to sell the system, as there would be no reason to invest in improving water in one area if the entire city would be receiving improved water from another source. 3) The city determined that the sewer upgrades needed to meet ammonia limits and comply with inflow and infiltration testing had to be addressed prior to spending money on water projects. The sewer system investment is required for compliance, while the water system investment is optional.
If Prop S is passed, City of Eureka would receive an estimated $460,000 in property taxes from Missouri American Water over the next 10 years. The amount would increase each year, from nearly $22,000 in year one to more than $60,000 in year 10, due to investments the company will make in Eureka’s water and sewer systems.
Water System: $16.2 million
Of the estimated $16.2 million in water system improvements, the largest investment ($10.6m) would be to supply the city with better quality water from Missouri American Water’s St. Louis County system. This would include building a transmission main to connect Eureka to our St. Louis County system, and making improvements to existing pipelines related to the change in water supply. Other projects include implementing a valve and hydrant maintenance program, tank inspection and cleaning, security measures, leak detection, and a cross-connection control program.
Sewer System: $21 million
Of the estimated $21 million in sewer system improvements, the largest investment ($18m) would be for lagoon treatment to maintain regulatory compliance with future ammonia limits. Other projects include sewer collection system lining and lift station improvements, manhole inspection, and sludge removal.
No, Eureka residents that are currently on wells and septic systems will not be required to connect to Missouri American Water’s system. If those residents would like to connect to Missouri American Water’s system in the future they would be responsible for hiring a contractor and the cost of connecting to the system.
Each of the rate charts shows the current water and sewer rates in addition to the projected rates going forward. As you noted, all three scenarios include an increase from current rates. The mayor stated in his recommendation letter (https://yesonseureka.com/Mayor%20Recommendation%20Letter_5-3-2020.pdf) that Eureka’s sewer system is not expected to meet future state and federal standards for ammonia removal, and will therefore require an upgrade to maintain compliance. The estimated cost of the lagoon treatment improvement is $18 million. If Eureka keeps the system it will need to make this investment by itself, which is why no "status-quo" option was included.
MSD will have no involvement in the Eureka sewer system if the sale to Missouri American Water (MAW) is passed. MAW will own and operate the sewer system independently.
Eureka’s poor water quality is due to its groundwater source that is naturally high in mineral content (see information on total dissolved solids). Once a pipeline connection is complete, Missouri American Water will supply water from its St. Louis County system, whose water is obtained from the Missouri and Meramec Rivers. When the switch in source water is made, Missouri American Water will flush all of the Eureka pipes, systematically operating valves, hydrants and water tanks to remove all of the well water from the system. During the system flush, the water will move through the pipes at an accelerated velocity to scour the inside of the mains and remove any sediment. Additional steps may be taken to clean and/or replace certain sections of pipe as needed.
An additional feed to serve Eureka is being considered as part of ongoing engineering planning process. That could mean parallel mains or an additional connection between the water systems at another location. These will be new water mains that would be expected to serve Eureka for many decades. The existing wells will serve Eureka until the pipeline is constructed and will remain as emergency water sources. The city’s water storage tanks also provide a reserve of available water in the event of a main break. The city has approximately 24 hours of storage capacity.
An independent state commission (the Missouri Public Service Commission) sets rates for Missouri American Water customers and determines how the cost of providing water and sewer service is allocated (how much of the cost should be paid for by a fixed charge, and how much of the cost should be paid for by volumetric usage). A bill that has a higher usage/volumetric charge may be seen as "favoring" low volume users, while a higher fixed charge may be seen as "favoring" high users. The commission designs rates in a way that they believe is fair and reasonable. Traditionally they have set water rates that have a small fixed charge and are primarily based on volumetric usage, while they have set sewer rates that are flat across usage levels.
Missouri American Water delivers high-quality water to 200 communities across the state, and consistently meets or surpasses all state and federal standards. By connecting Eureka to the company’s St. Louis County water system, Eureka residents will enjoy the same quality water as the rest of the County. Our most recent water quality reports, also known as consumer confidence reports, can be found on our website at: https://amwater.com/moaw/water-quality/water-quality-reports. As a result of our work in water treatment, Missouri American Water surface treatment plants are members of the Partnership for Safe Water. The Partnership is a national voluntary initiative developed by the EPA and other water organizations to recognize water suppliers that consistently achieve water treatment standards that surpass EPA requirements. Fewer than one percent of water utilities in the U.S. have achieved this recognition. All six of the company’s surface treatment plants – including all four in St. Louis County, a fifth in Joplin, and a sixth in Jefferson City – have received 15-year Director’s Awards from the Partnership
MAW softens our treated water to around 140 mg/L, which is considered moderate for this area of the country. Softening to this level produces high-quality drinking water and prevents corrosion, which is important for maintaining water quality and protecting public health (leaching of lead and copper, etc.). The level of total dissolved solids (TDS) will also be much lower with Missouri American Water. On average, Eureka’s wells have about 800 mg/L for TDS. In comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) non-enforceable secondary standard for TDS is 500 mg/L, and Missouri American Water averages 170–300 mg/L for TDS in St. Louis County.
No, that information is not correct. As the projected rate estimate chart below shows (see the green line), with Missouri American Water the monthly bill for an average water and sewer customer in Eureka (6,400 gallons per month) would be $78 a month starting in 2021, and then is estimated to increase to around $110 in a few years.
Water – Beginning in 2021, water rates for the average (6,400 gallon) user would be $39.60 per month. We estimate water rates will increase to about $55 for the average user in a few years.
Sewer – Beginning in 2021, sewer rates for the average (6,400 gallon) user would be $38.75 per month. We estimate sewer rates will increase to about $55 for the average user in a few years.
Water rates include a fixed customer charge of $9 and a volumetric charge of $4.78 per 1,000 gallons beginning in 2021. In a few years we estimate water rates would include a fixed charge of $12.60 and a volumetric charge of $6.69 per 1,000 gallons.
The sewer rates would be flat for all residential users.
The pipeline project is still in the research and preliminary design phase. Currently there are three routes being considered, two of which connect near Eureka High School. A map of the proposed routes can be found here: https://yesonseureka.com/Conceptual%20Alignments%201-3%20FINAL%20rev%2003-20-20.pdf The pipeline installation is estimated to be completed in mid- to late-2022.
Missouri American Water and the City of Eureka did not record that meeting.
Response from Mayor Sean Flower...
Arbors CID Explanation: The city does not pay to provide utilities to private developments (the city does not install roads, water, sewer, or other utilities for private developments). In the normal situation, the developer pays to install all of these items in a project, then dedicates the public items (sewer, water, roads, storm sewers, etc…) to the city or utility companies at no charge. The developer typically puts all of this cost into the cost of their lots, and sells the home to the buyer based on this lot cost. In some cases a city will allow the developer to put an annual assessment on the lots owners for a certain number of years instead of putting all the cost up front into the lots. This is only done where there are extraordinary costs (in the case of the arbors building a new water tank, the large parkway entrance, boring sewer under the highway, etc…). The developer still pays the full cost of all public improvements (the city still does not pay to install these utilities), but then puts some of this cost into the lot, and collects some from the buyer after closing for a set number of years. This allows the up front lot/house cost to be lower, and for buyers to pay the additional “extraordinary “ cost over time while they actually live there. In the case of the Arbors the developer paid the full cost of all the public improvements. They dedicated it to the city. The city has no debt and no obligations to pay for this asset, it owns it free and clear. The developer paid for part of this cost in the price of the lot, and the developer is also reimbursed for part of it through the annual CID assessment on homeowners. The city cannot redirect public funds (sale proceeds) to payoff CID payments as that would be causing all residents of the city to pay off the debt owed by the arbors residents to the private developer for the install of the utilities necessary to build their subdivision. In effect, the city would be paying to put in the water, sewer, and part of the roads for a private development if they were to pay off the CID payments. I hope this helps explain this topic. And just for clarity, I was neither at the city when this program was set up, I am not the developer, so I am just explaining what has happened in the past.
Residents do not receive a storm water bill as storm water is not a City utility. Their trash bill would be sent separately instead of being combined with their water and sanitary sewer bill if we sell those systems.