Sewer System Agency OKs Wastewater Plant Near Springfield

By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

A plan to fund a sanitary sewer system in southern Sarpy County, as well as to build a new permanent wastewater treatment plant south of Springfield, is seeking approval from the county’s five cities and county officials.

The Sarpy County and Cities Wastewater Agency signed off on a funding plan last Wednesday that includes an interlocal agreement with the Omaha Public Power District to put payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, funding toward the project.

“By using PILOT funds, we’re able to close any initial projected revenue shortfalls associated with the cost of building the sewer,” said Agency Board Chair Don Kelly. “It’s an innovative approach to paying for the system, and it’s taken months of collaboration to build this agreement.”

The agency and its partners are committed to not raising taxes to pay for the Unified Southern Sarpy Wastewater System, which is expected to spur development south of the county’s ridgeline.

 The councils of the five cities – Bellevue, Gretna, La Vista, Papillion and Springfield – as well as the Sarpy County Board will hold votes Oct. 15 to approve the interlocal agreement. They are all asked to give a portion of their OPPD PILOT funds generated by new growth from the project.

The public utility pays 5% of gross retail sales on electricity collected within a city’s boundaries in lieu of paying taxes. The amount the county and each city will pay will be based on their respective growth areas. 

In addition to PILOT funds, the project will be paid for with user and connection fees from development in southern Sarpy County. The project does not plan to use property tax dollars at this time.

The sewer system is projected to cost $220 million and be built in phases over the next two to five decades. The first planned step is a $40 million wastewater treatment plant south of Springfield.

“It made a lot of sense to come up with an engineering solution that moved the wastewater to its eventual end location – rather than building temporary treatment sites along the way,” Kelly said.

The Springfield plant will enable future development in southern Sarpy County by treating wastewater from the Buffalo Creek, Springfield Creek and Zwiebel Creek basins.

The exact location for the treatment plant has not been determined at this time.

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