By Leesa K. Bartu
The Exeter Village Board met Wednesday, January 3 for their regularly scheduled meeting.
The board had no concerns or corrections to the minutes and quickly reviewed the invoices and approved the bills.
Joe Dinneen, president of the cemetery board, approached the board with a request for funds to purchase new trees on the north side of the cemetery.
The two rows of trees would run east and west and be on the outside of the current wind break. Dinneen assured the board that the additional 250 red cedars would be very hardy trees.
Dinneen has also talked to members of the Exeter Area Community Foundation board about assistance in funding for the project but approached the village board because the tree order needs to be submitted now and “for them to submit a tree order they have to be guaranteed that it is paid.”
The cost for the trees and planting will be $2134 with the possibility of a discount and village board chairman Alan Michl agreed with Dinneen that the new trees, “were a good idea.”
The board approved the funds and Dinneen will continue to pursue a grant from the community foundation. He will do the groundwork and the trees will be planted in the spring. There will be a mesh placed around the trees to keep down the weeds and Dinneen will look for volunteers to water the trees this summer.
The board quickly reviewed the one and six year road report before hearing from Tyler Doane from JEO on the sewer report.
The board approached JEO to do some research on options for the sewer plant. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality recently adjusted the ammonia limits for sewer discharge. Doane presented a chart with the levels of ammonia tested in Exeter which showed that the new limits will find Exeter in violation.
According to Doane, “Some of the limits were cut by a quarter by the state. NDEQ seems every five years ammonia levels get lower. They didn’t say anything specific but they always find some new species that can’t handle ammonia as well. That’s why they continue to get lower.”
Doane presented three options to reduce the ammonia percentage. The first would be land application of the liquid. His calculations showed that the village would need a minimum of 30 acres for the liquid to be distributed through a pivot.
“You may take some soil samples and put it in a file and then a field rep may come and check it out. You would have to have an agreement between the village and property owner for the right to land apply the water.”
Doane gave a few land options and costs with adjacent farms.
The second option would be to build a mechanical type treatment which would include an ammonia polishing zone. The current processes would stay in place and then the discharge would go onto rock beds that have air that blow on the rocks. This would be a secondary treatment that would be a continuous discharge system. This option would add $18.45 to the monthly sewer bill.
The final option would be to purchase adjacent land and build an additional lagoon.
Michl expressed his concerns about paying for the improvements. He reminded the board that any sewer improvements have to be paid for through sewer rates. The land application option showed a cost of $14.05 a month which would raise the sewer rates to $25.05 a month.
“Don’t do anything is an option but I don’t know how long that is an option,” explained Tyler, “It’s not just Exeter they are cutting ammonia limits on it’s going to be everybody.”
Michl added his opinion, “If we have to, my first thought would be to put in another lagoon. We wouldn’t have to worry about a landowner or pivots. After initial costs, there would be no operating costs or maintenance. One of the main costs for building a lagoon is riff raff, but we are tearing up a bunch of streets here and we are going to have lots of riff raff that can be used.”
Michl noted that the cost to build a new lagoon would be less than $16.84 extra per month on sewer bills. “Compared to pivots and maintenance on a pivot that is going to eat us up.”
Vice Chairman Tim Wilbeck agreed, “It makes sense to me. We don’t have to do anything now. In good faith, we are trying to stay ahead with this report.”
Board member Mitch Schlegelmilch added, “We are trying to stay in compliance. We need to be proactive.”
The board didn’t make any decisions and plan to watch the tests results of the ammonia . They discussed the possibility of raising sewer rates in anticipation of changes to come since the infrastructure for sewer has to be paid for with sewer funds.
The Board approved purchase of land adjacent to the water tower they had discussed in a previous meeting.
The maintenance report was short from supervisor John Mueller. He notified the board that the well work is scheduled for February. The board thanked Mueller for his quick and efficient snow removal.
Clerk Becky Erdkamp reported that October sales tax total was $9185.62 and November keno receipts were $902.98.
The next meeting was set for February 5.