Central sewer system appears to be making headway at the Lake of the Ozarks

Sep 23, 2014

After an ongoing 10 year process, residents of the Lake of the Ozarks may finally get a central sewer system.

Stan Schultz, owner of Surveying and Engineering Company, is confident that by the time the year is out they will have a bid to take 250 homes off septic systems in Rocky Mount. Schultz’s company was hired to do the project.

"We're finding that about 90 percent of the people that we poll in the phase one area do want the sewer, they're willing to pay for it. And most of the comments we get back the last time we polled were asking when are we going to get it, we've waited long enough."

Coves with septic tanks have higher bacteria levels than coves with central sewer systems. The Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance, LOWA, has proven through their testing program that the water is safe for swimming and recreational activities. Despite the long process, Schultz says the board directors of Rocky Mount are very qualified and are very in tune with the public. Their ultimate goal is to keep the lake healthy and get all 19 hundred homes off the septic system.

Donna Swall, the executive director of LOWA, says, "By getting those septic's offline in Rocky Mount and getting a sewer installed we can assure protection of our assets, of our property values and investments, as well as everyone's health and liability of the economy of the lake."

Swall also says they are working to secure additional funding. LOWA is currently working with a large grant from a state revolving fund. Swall says both funds will make for a viable project with growth in the future because the Lake of the Ozarks is a major tourism engine for the state of Missouri.

Schultz says the process began back in August 2003. Voters of Morgan Country voted to form the Rocky Mount Sewer District in the area's east of the Gravois Arm all the way to the Miller County Line.

In 2004, they received a $24 million revenue bond to cover construction costs. However, they had to set out to find government funding because new start up sewer projects are not financially feasible for private bond markets to finance.

They then received their first funding in 2009 when stimulus money was earmarked for the project. Schultz says there plan was to pump sewage from the eastern side of the project to the Lake of the Ozarks. Then they would pay the Lake of the Ozarks and joint sewer board, operated by Osage Beach, for treatment. This fell through because they did not have $1 million to cover the fee to tie into the line required by the joint sewer board. Therefore, they lost funding.

Two years ago, Schultz said they were put on a funding list for a $3 million grant and $1.4 million loan through the department of natural resources. However, after designing a project within that budget, problems arose while closing. In November 2013, Schultz and his company were told they would have to find funds elsewhere. Right now, Schultz says they are in the process of going through their appeals process to get approval. He says he is confident the project is finally coming together.