Residents in Liberty, Missouri, now have a $78 million wastewater treatment plant, and will no longer rely on Kansas City for processing services.
The facility officially opened last week and is the biggest infrastructure project in the city’s history. It’s also the first time Liberty is treating its own sewage.
The plant is on a 26 acre site at the southern limit of the city. It can serve 70,000 people, more than twice Liberty’s current population. There are two miles of underground pipes beneath the plant where it takes wastewater about 30 hours to complete the treatment process.
Mayor Lyndell Brenton says once the wastewater has finished, treatment it can be cleaner than the water in the Missouri River. He says the state-of-the-art aerobic wastewater treatment process is virtually odorless compared to older, smellier systems.
Rising rates, Brenton says, pushed local authorities to plan their own facility.
“We didn’t think the rates we were receiving from Kansas City were sustainable. The rate increases we were seeing from them were typically double digit, anywhere from nine to 15 percent increases,” says Brenton.
He says another reason for the project was to ensure the city could control and promote economic development.
“The last thing you want is someone who wants to either put a commercial or a residential development in your city and we can’t because we don’t have any capacity to treat sewage,” says Brenton.
The city employs an additional five personnel for the plant and currently treats about three million gallons of wastewater per day. Brenton says other cities have already inquired about the possibility of Liberty treating their wastewater
The project started with a feasibility study in 2012 and was financed by a 2013 bond approved by 90 percent of voters.
Danny Wood is a freelance reporter for KCUR 89.3.