April showers bring May flowers to most Kansas communities, but for years in the town of Leon those spring rains brought sewage to front yards. This year residents have something different to look forward to after the completion of a two-year project to upgrade the town’s sewer system.
“Some of the sewer system was originally built in the ’30s and ’40s,” said Shelly Martin, Leon City Commission member. “Back then homes didn’t have dishwashers, multiple toilets and washing machines that held super loads.”
A special meeting held by the Leon City Commission on Monday night finalized sewer rates in relationship to the new system. The city was required by Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to raise rates to be equal to other Kansas communities of similar size as part of the loan Leon received from the government agency and the $500,000 grant the city received from the Kansas Department of Commerce.
“KDHE gave us a $732,000 Kansas Water Pollution Control Revolving,” said Martin. “They made us raise rates in order to show that we could pay back that loan.”
The total project cost nearly $1.3 million. Sewer rates were raised from $23 per month to $40.40 to pay for the loan. While this may seem like a drastic increase, Martin said it is the average of what other Kansas towns with similar population and sewer systems pay.
“The rates were raised over the last two years, in six month increments, to make it easier on the community,” said Martin. “The KDHE wanted us to raise the rates to $45, but we were able to keep the rate slightly lower.”
The extra money collected will also allow for a rainy day fund to cover the cost of future repairs and maintenance. This is something that Martin said the town has never had before.
The project started in July 2011 but paperwork and writing the grant started in 2010. The new system includes new line in many areas, 32,000 feet of relined sewer, and nearly every manhole in town either rebuilt, repaired, or raised.
“This has been a long process but I am happy to say this should last us for at least another 50 years,” said Martin.