Mozingo Lake maryville council 1-28

Future treatment options at Mozingo Lake and mitigation of nutrient runoff in the surrounding watershed area will be high priorities moving forward, City Manager Greg McDanel told the Maryville City Council Monday evening.

MARYVILLE, Mo. — Maryville City Council members received an update Monday evening on options city staff is considering to address the water situation.

Earlier this month, the city followed state Department of Natural Resources procedures by alerting the public that the water in Mozingo Lake was home to a dense cyanobacteria bloom, also called blue-green algae, and advised people and pets alike to avoid direct contact with the lake’s water. Any water that comes through a tap at home remains safe to use and drink.

Such warnings are advised in cases where cyanobacteria density reaches a certain level during regular testing because of the risk that the bacteria will begin releasing cyanotoxins, which can be harmful to humans.

City Manager Greg McDanel said the city has continued with more frequent testing on the lake to keep track of the cyanobacteria levels, and none of the tests have showed any cyanotoxins present. The most recent round of tests were inconclusive, and McDanel said DNR would like the city to have a third lab test the water sample after the first two showed a wide disparity in results.

Nine different tests are done on the drinking water daily, and several every few hours, to ensure it meets quality standards, which it has continued to do.

The smell and taste effects of the bacteria have moved farther and farther up the list of the city’s priorities since 2017 as the traditional methods of filtering out the unpleasant aesthetic affectations started to lose their effectiveness. By 2018, PeopleService, the contractor that runs the day-to-day operations of the water treatment plant, said that it had reached the limits of what chemical treatments could safely be used to address the taste and odor issues.

Monday, McDanel said the city had been treating about 80-100 acres of Mozingo Lake in parts nearest the water treatment intake systems. However, DNR recommended that the city stop chemical treatments on the lake as it might cause the release of cyanotoxins.

Going forward, McDanel said the city is looking into several options both for infrastructure improvements on the water treatment side and different ways of mitigating the growths on the lake itself. The goal, he said, is to find an efficient solution that will address future needs, keep the water safe and fix aesthetic issues. But the safety of the water remains the first priority.

On the water treatment side, one of the most effective solutions, McDanel said, would be using granular activated carbon to filter the water, likely removing the objectionable taste and odor. But the added infrastructure, an 83-foot by 53-foot building, would cost an estimated $6.6 million. McDanel said that wouldn’t necessarily mean it’s something the city couldn’t pursue, but it would carry a hefty price tag.

On the lake treatment side, treating water intakes with ozone is one option, but McDanel and Assistant Manager Ryan Heiland emphasized the importance of working on a more comprehensive plan for the entire watershed area — several miles.

“We are, I would say, in our infancy in source water management,” McDanel told the council. “In hindsight, this is something that should have been started with the development of the lake and been made a top priority. But as a lake ages and nutrient levels change, this is a definite priority for us moving forward.”

Runoff from area farms and other properties eventually feed into the lake, which could account for the elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorous nutrients that cause cyanobacteria growth. But there has never been an inventory of what exactly is in any of the runoff at Mozingo, making working with area landowners to come up with one a necessary first step.

“Really, accounting for any potential contaminants in an inventory process through system, so working with individual farmers in individual areas to know what kind of nutrients are coming off those properties, and what we can do in partnership to reduce those,” McDanel said.

Heiland said the DNR has had success in working with some landowners already in converting some land adjacent to the watershed into wetlands that help provide filtering for storm runoff.

Staff members are still evaluating what options may be available and plans on how each could be accomplished. McDanel said the city will also put out a request for qualifications this week for an engineer to help evaluate water treatment solutions.

Council member Tye Parsons said he would especially be inclined to support long-term investments in managing Mozingo Lake.

“I don’t want to take the Band-Aid approach, I want to take the approach that, even if it might be painful financially in the short term, it lays the groundwork for important improvements down the road,” Parsons said. “And when you start talking about a new water plant or something like that, you’re talking many, many million of dollars but, it’s the water. I mean, we don’t have any other source.”

Mayor Rachael Martin praised city staff for its transparency in keeping the public apprised of every development, and shifting water treatment to the front of the priorities list so quickly.

“It stinks that we’re going through this, but I think that we’re making the best of it that we can,” Martin said. “So, that’s all we can do is just be really open with the communication process and keep testing beyond what we’re required to test.”

Other City Council notes:

  • Mayor Martin read a proclamation declaring the week of Feb. 2-9 Scouts BSA Anniversary Week, in honor of the Boys Scouts of America’s 110th anniversary.
  • McDanel said the repairs to Third Street after water line repairs are completed likely won’t be done until spring along with a number of other street overlays.
  • A resolution to dissolve the airport advisory board is on hold after it was removed from the meeting agenda.
  • Council approved a contract with Jacob Heflin, a Northwest Missouri State University graduate, to develop a tourism website. Half of the contract, worth up to $6,957, will be paid for through a grant from the Missouri Division of Tourism.

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