By Barry Dalton
Despite recent reports in the Mexico media that the city of Laddonia is under pressure to address its aging water plant and future water supply needs, the city’s recently hired water plant manager says that the plant is stable at the moment.
“The city’s water plant is currently operating well with no major issues,” stated Charlie Vogt in his May report to the Laddonia Board of Aldermen.
An independent engineering report commissioned by Laddonia in January 2021 by Klingner and Associates, indicates that the plant is past its structural life cycle, but there is no timeline on when major maintenance needs will occur.
The Laddonia water treatment plant was built in 1985 with well water as its source.
“The existing water treatment plant has operated since 1985 with much of the equipment remaining from the initial startup,” the Klingner report states. “Many of the piping, structures and appurtenances have worked well past their life cycles with proper maintenance, but regardless are in need of replacement.”
The report goes on to explain that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has updated its policies for the design of water treatment plants, and Laddonia’s plant no longer meets these standards
Although some previous boards have kicked the ball down the road, the current board of aldermen, like the previous board, continues to do its due diligence. During the first meeting of the new board, the aldermen agreed that city staff should seek additional input from the Missouri Rural Water Association (MRWA) about the Klingner report.
According to a written report, the MRWA found two of the Klingner recommendations viable. One option is to build a new water treatment plant and the second would be to connect to the Clarence Cannon Wholesale Water Commission (CCWWC).
Clarence Cannon provides wholesale drinking water to 23 member systems (14 cities and nine rural water districts) in Northeast Missouri, including Farber and Vandalia.
“Essentially, we take water from Mark Twain Lake, clean and filter it to meet the state and federal standards, and pipe it to our member systems,” said Heath Hall, general manager of Clarence Cannon.
The cost to build a new water treatment plant would be approximately $4 million, but it is also a reasonable option, according to MRWA. However, MRWA concluded that the connection to Clarence Cannon would be “the cost-effective option.”
Hooking up to CCWWC would be a $2-million investment, but grants are available that could cut that cost in half, MRWA said. CCWWC would finance the investment and construct the transmission main along Hwy. 154 to the city’s existing water tower. All maintenance would be handled by CCWWC.
“This option would have the lowest impact on customer rates while supplying a long-term quality source for the city,” stated Liz Grove of MRWA in her report summary.
Laddonia’s current water rate is $11 per thousand gallons of water used, while CCWWC’s wholesale rate is just $2.13. The wholesaler would sell the water directly to the city of Laddonia, and the city would set its own water rates.
To make joining somewhat more affordable for smaller cities like Laddonia, Hall has been visiting boards in every member district to seek approval for a plan to lower the cost of joining. To go into effect, each member district’s board of aldermen must vote to approve it.
Hall says that as of May 15, he has visited 17 member systems and so far has heard no opposition to the new member plan.
During Hall’s visit in April, the Farber Board of Alderman listened to the plan and voted in favor of it. In June, Hall plans to visit Vandalia, which has its own water reservoir and treatment plant but provides wholesale water to the local prison from CCWWC.
CCWWC has a 10-million-gallon-per-day water treatment plant located near Florida, Mo. The drinking water distribution system consists of approximately 310 miles of piping, 7.35 million gallons of storage, and six pump stations.
During an interview with the Leader on May 14, Hall agreed there is no pressure on Laddonia to make a decision about joining CCWWC.
“I don’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on them,” Hall said. “It is most definitely their choice to make. We are here if they need us.”
Scott Allen, project manager of Clarence Cannon Operations, pointed out that every city that joins the commission has one vote on all decisions, including rate hikes, so decisions are never made that aren’t in the best interest of all members.
“We take pride in delivering consistent high-quality drinking water to our [members], and have been doing so since 1992,” Hall said.