Meramec Regional Planning Commission hears update on Wastewater Operator Study

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MRPC Executive Director Bonnie Prigge (left) presents Gasconade County Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel with a plaque recognizing his service as board chair. Steve Vogt with city of Belle (right) took over chairman responsibilities at the June meeting.

The Meramec Regional Planning Commission heard an update from Assistant Director Tammy Snodgrass on the Wastewater Study completed by MRPC at its Aug. 12, 2021 meeting. The study examined the feasibility of sharing certified wastewater operators between communities in the Meramec Region to reduce costs and improve staff retention.  

The study, which was funded through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources 604b grant program, sought to determine if sharing certified operators was cost saving for communities and if it improved employment stability for communities when it came to keeping operators on staff. The survey received 31 responses from communities and private systems. 

The study identified the opportunities to use MOUs and contracts between communities to share staff and provide full-time positions for certified operators and thus avoid turnover.

The study also provided sample MOUs for communities to provide backup operators when regular operators were not available (i.e. vacation, resignation, etc.). The study is under formal review by the Department of Natural Resources.

“We know some of our smaller communities struggle to keep a certified operator, so we hope that our work will lead to partnerships and sharing of staff as well as the development of  backup plans for those systems with only one operator,” said MRPC Executive Director Bonnie Prigge. “We will be sharing information with those communities and systems who are interested in exploring these arrangements.”

For more information about the study, please contact Snodgrass at 573-265-2993 Ext. 104 or via email at tsnodgrass@meramecregion.org. 

In other business, the MRPC board: 

• Honored Gasconade County Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel for his term as chairman from January 2019 to June 2021.

• Heard an update on planning of Meramec Regional Planning Commission annual dinner that will be Oct. 21, 2021 at the Student Activity Center at State Technical College of Missouri in Linn. Ticket prices this year will be $35 a person.

• Approved the prioritization of unfunded Tier 3 road, bridge and multimodal projects that were prioritized by the Transportation Advisory Committee earlier in the day. See separate story for prioritization of projects.

• Heard an update on grants recently awarded to MRPC including a $1 million grant to combat the opioid epidemic from the Health Resource and Services Administration, and another $1 million grant to complete a lead hazard reduction program in the Meramec Region from the Office Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes through HUD.