A state water quality expert is urging Iowa lawmakers to help cities finance repairs to sewer treatment facilities. The sewer treatment plants in 21 Iowa cities and towns were damaged when flood waters swamped lagoons.
Department of Natural Resources water quality bureau chief Chuck Corell says in some cases these are the same cities already facing mandatory — and expensive — upgrades to meet federal Clean Water Act standards.
"When they start calculating those monthly sewer bills for their citizens, they can get pretty high pretty fast," he says. "You get a town of 250 that has to spend $1 million, that’s not a lot of households to spread that cost around."
Corell says legislators should consider putting more money into the state’s revolving loan fund for sewage treatment plant improvements. Some communities may qualify for federal assistance as well, but can’t wait until the money arrives to make the repairs. Corell cites the example of Cedar Rapids.
"Their plant was completely flooded out and they’re just starting to get it into shape to start treating waste water again," Corell says. "Now, in some of the smaller towns with lagoons, for example, if (the flood waters) didn’t wash away any dikes, they should be in fairly good shape without a lot of repair, but we did lose some stream crossings where the sewer had to go under stream, so we know there’s going to be some repair there, too."