PLATTSMOUTH – A problem has been discovered concerning the repair of the city’s water treatment plant damaged from this spring’s flood.
Water has cut through a portion of the Platte River bank north of town sending water flowing through the Schilling Wildlife Management Area and onto the area surrounding the plant, according to City Administrator Erv Portis.
The cut was discovered last week from helicopter flights over flood-damaged areas, he said.
The cut in the bank is 150 feet wide and 10 to 15 feet deep, Portis said.
“It’s a big deal problem,” he said on Tuesday.
Mayor Paul Lambert added, “It will be that deep forever unless something is done.”
Between three and five feet of water is currently surrounding the plant and its nearby wells, Lambert said.
Portis brought up this development at Monday evening’s City Council meeting.
“All of this complicates our access to the plant,” he told council members.
City officials are seeking solutions with other “stakeholders” on this issue, such as identifying the best way to repair this cut, the cost and who is responsible for the repair, Portis said.
Among the stakeholders are FEMA, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the state’s Game and Parks Commission, the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the private owner of that land, Lambert said.
The city has held meetings individually with some of these stakeholders and hopefully will meet with all of them together soon, he said.
Portis said, “There’s clear agreement that this is a problem that needs to be fixed.”
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Lambert added, “It’s going to be an expensive fix.”
Despite this development, Portis was still hopeful that the goal of having the plant operational again in six months since the flooding began can still be met.
Meanwhile, there seems to be progress in getting the city’s wastewater plant running again.
Portis said electricity has been at least temporarily restored and equipment repaired allowing for raw sewage to flow through the plant with limited treatment before being released into the Missouri River.
For about two months, the city had no choice but to release the sewage into the river without any treatment because of the plant’s shutdown.
“We had no other option,” Lambert said, adding that other cities along the Missouri River, including Omaha, were doing the same with their raw sewage.
“We were not the only ones,” Lambert said.
Portis did say there are still major components that still need repair. These include electrical, mechanical and pumping equipment.
Again, Lambert expressed hope that the wastewater plant can be up and running also in six months since the flood closed it down.
On a related topic, Portis and Lambert both agreed that local residents are continuing to conserve water usage because of the flood. After the water plant shut down, the city was able to reach an agreement with Cass County Rural Water District #1 to use some of its water, but also asked the community to conserve usage.
“People are doing a great job,” Portis said.
Lambert added, “They are thinking of more ways to conserve.”