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Public Water Supply District No. 2 seeks to replace aging LSL sewer system

A Lake Saint Louis alderman is among those named to a committee examining a proposed major public works project to upgrade and replace sewer lines under the two main lakes in Lake Saint Louis.

The city’s Board of Aldermen named Alderman Gary Torlina (Ward 1) to serve as the city’s representative on the committee. Other members of the committee are expected to include Tony Sneed, manager of engineering and operations for Public Water Supply District No. 2, Rick Tipton from the Community Association, and Lake Saint Louis residents Dave Williams and Chuck Ruedebusch.

Torlina was named at an August board meeting, where the board also heard from a resident pleading for help from the city in examining engineering alternatives to what has been proposed so far – namely  the Lake Saint Louis Sewer Improvement Program, which calls for installing 12 miles of new sewer lines and building 30 new pump stations around both lakes. Those recommendations could come back to the district’s governing board in October.

“Right now the project is on hold,” Sneed said, noting that the district is working with area residents regarding the impact of the work on their homes. “We are looking at recommendations from an advisory committee to come up with a scoping report that addresses the concerns of citizens.”

Residents have strongly questioned the district’s plans, particularly the impact of a series of proposed pumping stations that are part of the proposed $28 million project.

Completed in phases over 12 years, the project would result in $2 per month additional charge for District No. 2 customers. The district provides water and sewer services to about 100,000 people in much of western St. Charles County and into Warren County.

Correcting problems with the city’s aging sewer system isn’t a new topic.

When the city was being built in the 1960s, eight miles of sanitary sewer line were buried under the 75-acre Lake Saint Louis and the 75-acre Lake Sainte Louise.

Sneed said these mains are now more than 50 years old and need replacing. If nothing is done, the mains could leak, break or fail. Because they are submerged, it’s more expensive and difficult to fix them than land-based mains.

District officials have said that they will work with homeowners to camouflage the pump stations with landscaping. However, with as many as half the lift stations potentially impacting homeowners, residents have voiced concerns about the stations’ effect on property values and odors that might persist.

Ray Schroeder, a resident along Dauphine Drive, urged the board to look at the problem as one that affects the entire community. “You’re in the loop, you’re my fellow neighbors,” he told the board of aldermen. “Look at this as a problem with Lake Saint Louis,” he said.

Mayor Ralph Sidebottom, at the board’s July 7 meeting, had acknowledged that broken sewer lines in the major lakes would affect everyone’s property values.

“We need to resolve the problem of an aging infrastructure,” Sidebottom said at the time. “People were there saying, well, the pipe has lasted 50 years.  (But) if on the 51st year that sewer fails in front of someone’s house it’s going to be all our problem,  not just the person who lives there.”

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