Here's hoping final details are worked out

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Not too long ago, it looked like an impossible task for McCook to meet federal and state water standards by the March 2006 deadline. But, since the McCook City Council made the decision to go the water treatment route, the city has been on a strict, efficient schedule, encouraging engineers to believe the deadline will be met.

"The treatment plant project is on schedule," Greg Wolford of W Design Associates said this morning. "The building shell for the treatment equipment is done and the reservoir is over 60 percent completed," he reported. With five different contractors now at work on the $13 million project, Wolford said the parts are in place to have the project completed by the March deadline.

The only issue left to resolve is how to dispose of the waste. What McCook's water engineers are proposing is disposal of waste through deep well injection. It's a new idea for municipal water plants in Nebraska, although it is a method frequently used in this area to dispose of waste water from oil drilling projects.

However, in a report to the council Tuesday night, engineer Dale Jacobson reported the injection well permitting process will not be done in time. That means McCook has to come up with an interim method for the disposal of waste from the water treatment plant.

We hope this will not be too much trouble to work out, as Jacobson said the state Department of Environmental Quality has expressed a willingness to work out details of the alternative plan, which involves mixing the discharge with McCook's regular wastewater stream.

Deep well injection makes sense for disposal of waste from the water treatment plant. That's because the plant will mainly be concentrating on three contaminants: nitrates, arsenic and uranium. Once extracted from the water, the contaminants will be in the form of brine water, which will be pumped into the injection well. The well will be 2,000 feet deep and will be located in the wastewater treatment area near Ravenswood Road in southeast McCook.

McCook is hoping to get a better insight into the state's thinking next week when top officials from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality come to town. Both the director and deputy director of DEQ will be here to gather community input on environmental quality issues.

It will be a good opportunity to discuss McCook's water treatment project, and to agree on the steps needed to bring the project to a successful conclusion.

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