Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013 10:53 am | Updated: 11:22 am, Mon Aug 26, 2013.

SUNRISE BEACH, Mo. — There could be a new sewer district in the works for the West Side of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Approximately 40 interested homeowners attended a meeting on Thursday, Aug. 22 at the Lake of the Ozarks West Chamber of Commerce in Sunrise Beach, held to gauge the interest for a new sewer district service area east of the village of Sunrise Beach and west of Porte Cima, including Shawnee Bend No. 1 and No. 2. Organizer Don Hoechstenback said there are no definite boundaries set as yet, and the service area is negotiable.

Also at the meeting were Camden County Commissioner Cliff Luber, Schultz Surveying and Engineering (SSE) Representatives, Sunrise Beach City Planner Roger Corbin and Attorney Bill McCaffee. McCaffee represents several Lake Area sewer districts and is considered an expert on sewer district law.

More than 600 letters were recently sent out in an attempt to gauge the interest in a new sewer district.

“This has to be a grassroots effort with the consensus of the people,” said SSE Owner Stan Schultz.

Hoechstenback said he has received many positive phone calls and emails from people who were very interested in a new sewer district, but who could not attend the meeting.  

Options discussed included building a treatment facility in Shawnee Bend, hooking up to the Sunrise Beach Sewer District in their future Phase No. 2 sewer project, and connecting to the Porto Cima sewer system.

According to Hoechstenback, a sewer district would be far more cost effective than the installation of individual shoreline septic systems, which can cost $20,000 and can be more expensive to maintain. According to the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance (LOWA), lakeside properties should use the newer systems that are designed with the length of lateral lines corresponding to each home’s number of bedrooms and occupants.

LOWA Executive Director Donna Swall commented in a separate interview saying, “We know we have got to get these septic tanks off the shoreline. Because of our karst topography, we do not have the two feet of soil needed for laterals to function properly. Soil has a natural bacterial that eats the bad bacteria. Without the proper soil, the effluent seeps out of the lateral, down the hill, hits the flat karst topography and freely flows into the Lake, or water table.

“Septics are fine in the country where there is a lot of land and soil,” she noted.

The application of septic systems is clearly defined by the Natural Resource Conservation Service and, under that definition, lake lots are not conducive to septic tanks. The service has prepared a map of the entire Lake; red areas on their map indicate areas not recommended for septic systems.

On the map, the entire shoreline of the Lake of the Ozarks is red.

Swall added that the growing Lake of the Ozarks population is nearing 100,000 people.

“We need to take the steps now, and be proactive, and keep our healthy Lake healthy. And we know what we need to do to keep it healthy, and that is getting more sewer districts formed,” she said.

A failing septic can leach E. coli or other bacteria into the Lake, causing sickness and disease. Phosphorus from detergents can also leach into the Lake, contributing algae blooms. When the massive amounts of algae die, the decay pulls oxygen from the water, causing a stench and killing fish.

Also of concern is improperly monitored systems that could fail while weekenders are not at the Lake, leaching into the water until the homeowners return.

“It is much more intelligent and cost effective to create a sewer district, install a shared system, pay a monthly fee and have it properly maintained by professionals,” Swall said.

Since the idea for a new district has been met with significant public approval, the next step in the process will be to gain approval from the Camden County Commission. After that, it could still take up to four years to organize, plan and build the project.

SSE Owner Stan Schultz has been instrumental in helping many sewer districts obtain funding for their systems through State Revolving Funds and the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development grants and loans.

“The federal and state government is interested in addressing the issue of sewage on a voluntary basis,” Schultz said.

Project construction and development costs could be paid for, at least in part, by sewer bonds. Depending on the type of district that would be legally formed, there may or may not have to be a special bond election. New common sewer district laws allow a properly formed common sewer district to issue bonds by resolution instead of requiring a second election.

“Just as LOWA has partnered with the Rocky Mount and Sunrise Beach Sewer Districts, we will work diligently with DNR to assist in obtaining funding for this project, if it moves forward,” Swall said.

Interested persons may email SSE Representative Amanda LaPorte at aklaporte@sseeng.com

Valerie Littrell - 573-216-4991