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Weston still battling
effects from flood

by Pam Rooks
Landmark reporter

The city of Weston continues to battle the after-effects of last summer’s flood waters.

During a meeting of the aldermen Monday evening, Superintendent of Public Works Mike Large and City Clerk Kim Kirby provided a flood update to aldermen regarding the status of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) application for grant funds to pay for repairs to the city’s water and sewer facilities.

According to worksheets submitted to FEMA on Nov. 9 and 13, the two main repair projects will cost about $67,000 including $50,193 to replace 500 linear feet of force main that washed out after the collapse of a levee not owned by the city and $16,783 to replace gravel in the lagoon and four culverts.

Additionally, Large said also flood waters may have lifted the vinyl liner of the city’s sewer lagoon out of its original placement, possibly causing leaks and tears especially around the pipe. City workers in recent days have been pumping water from the lagoon in what Large described as “a very painstaking and messy job” to prepare the liner for inspection.

The water level has been reduced to just a few inches now and Large was given the go-ahead by aldermen to contract for the services of a vacuum truck which will pump out the remaining water at an estimated cost of $2,300. Once the lagoon is completely empty, it can be inspected and repaired, Large said, and he estimated the final cost at around $10,000 based on his current understanding of the damage.

The liner serves as an important barrier not just to keep sewage out of the groundwater below but to keep the groundwater from entering the sewage lagoon as well, he said, because a reaction between groundwater and sewage water can kill the microorganisms that treat the sewage.

In other post-flood news, Weston Bottoms Levee and Drainage Association president Gary Anderson invited the city to join the WBLDA and also asked if it could provide $20,000 to help fund repairs to damaged levees.

Anderson said the group had recently received a bid of $221,000 to fix holes left behind by the floods but added, “fixing the holes is nice but it’s not going to do the whole job because we’ve got to go over every foot of that levee, reshape it, it’s got to be reseeded and remulched-- that’s six and a half miles of levee.”

Anderson said that other sections of the levee have either sloughed off or are completely gone and that in many cases, the costs of repair were not included in the bid.

Farmer members of the WBLDA have been asked to contribute $100 per acre, Anderson said, which should give the organization about $300,000 to put toward repairs, “which we think might take care of it,” he said. Some members have been financially unable to contribute at that level, however, leaving the group instead with about $223,000.

In October, Anderson had requested that the city consider sponsoring the WBLDA’s application for a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The process obligates the city to provide 25% of the local cost share in the 75-25 split, but Anderson said that since the group had already raised $223,000 on its own, the city will not be on the hook for that sum of money.

“What we’d really like you to consider, and I don’t know if the city would be willing to do it or not, but we would really like you to become a member of our levee district and help us out on the political end of this,” said Anderson. “If we would have some governmental tie, we might have a shot at getting some money. Right now, we’ve got no shot, other than this one, and possibly FEMA.”

Reading aloud from the NRCS grant stipulations for the city sponsor, Quint Shafer, attorney for the city of Weston, pointed out that, in addition to the 25% cost share (which Anderson again noted has already been raised by the farmers), the terms of the grant hold the city responsible, in part, for acquiring land rights and administering and maintaining the repairs.

In 1994, Shafer said, there was a similar agreement between the city and the drainage association in which a separate agreement between the city and the association indemnified the city “from anything that had to do with the agreement that the city might make as a sponsoring agency.”

“So basically it was a flow-through liability,” said Shafer. “So I think this coupled with an agreement similar to what was done in 1994 probably would address that concern.”

Weston aldermen will place the Anderson’s request on the agenda for consideration at next month’s meeting.