WATERLOO — Engineering studies show the Waterloo waste water treatment plant could handle sewage from Cedar Falls and surrounding communities.
But the politics of setting up a shared treatment plant are far from being resolved.
A $75,000 study organized by the Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments and conducted by the AECOM engineering firm is nearing completion but came up Tuesday during a Waterloo City Council meeting.
Waterloo Waste Management Services Director Steve Hoambrecker said officials are finalizing a draft report completed last week before officially presenting it to area city councils.
“Basically what that report is somewhat telling us is that it is doable to bring not only Cedar Falls sewage into the Waterloo system, (but) Evansdale, Hudson, Elk Run Heights and Raymond all could come to the treatment plant,” Hoambrecker said. “We could treat it.
“We really need to look at the rate structure … so it’s fair and equitable to everybody,” he added. “The other part of it is: How will it be operated if we get to that point. Both of those have some level of political hurdles.”
The idea to explore a regional sewage treatment plant has been kicked around for decades but began picking up steam in recent years as cities began facing massive bills to upgrade antiquated plants and meet new nutrient reduction standards.
INRCOG coordinated a plan to revisit a 1973 engineering report that outlined a potential central treatment plant to serve the metropolitan area.
The Black Hawk County Gaming Association provided $60,000 for the study, while the cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls kicked in $7,500 each to update that 45-year-old document.
“The main point of the report was to see, engineering-wise, if it is possible,” said AECOM’s Doug Schindel. “Definitely it is, and now we’re just refining the cost for each of the communities to connect.
“There’s not guarantee that there’s going to be a regionalization,” Schindel said. “But they’re still talking about that as an option.”
Shared sewage treatment plants are not unusual in Iowa.
The Des Moines Metro Wastewater Reclamation Authority, which includes 17 metro area municipalities, counties and sewer districts, utilizes one plant for all of the jurisdictions it serves. Raymond and Elk Run Heights already share a treatment plant.