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      Wastewater plant upgrades mean higher sewer bills

      New, stricter state standards mean the City of Kirksville is going to have to make major, expensive upgrades at its wastewater treatment plant south of town.

      That will likely mean a substantial increase in sewer rates for Kirksville residents.

      The Kirksville City Council recently toured the plant to get a look at what improvements need to be made.

      The upgrades will include expansion, remodeling and adding new state-of-the-art equipment to the current wastewater treatment plant.

      Right now, the estimated price tag for the project is $18 million.

      "We anticipate that this will have to be paid for through bonds, and the bonds will have to be repaid through user fees, which means an increase in sewer rates," John Buckwalter, Kirksville public works director, said.

      Buckwalter told KTVO changes will have to be made both inside and outside the plant, and improvements will include a lot of new construction.

      City leaders say they'll try to minimize the impact on your pocketbook.

      "We want to stretch out the time that we can continue to operate this plant, as long as we can within permit limits, to give us time to build up funds to limit the amount of money we have to borrow to minimize the impact of sewer rates, so we don't have to have a huge increase at once, but we can stagger that increase over five to seven years," said Buckwalter.

      As it stands now, the facility plans still have to be approved by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

      After that, city officials will then begin the design phase.

      Buckwalter said he doesn't expect construction at Kirksville's Wastewater Treatment Plant to begin for probably another year.