February 29th, 2024

7 12 18 city work sessionLiberal City Manager Calvin Burke and representatives from National Beef discuss some details regarding the City of Liberal standalone wastewater treatment plant and the National Beef wastewater treatment plant during a work session Thursday afternoon. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times


Discussion regarding clarification of some details of the upcoming City of Liberal standalone wastewater treatment plant and  a National Beef wastewater treatment plant continues between the City of Liberal and National Beef. 

The two entities met for a work session Thursday afternoon and after starting the meeting by spending several minutes looking at maps and getting clarification on some boundaries and similar details, the representatives from National Beef brought forth a few questions for City Manager Calvin Burke, Mayor Connie Seigrist and Vice Mayor Taylor Harden. 

“We’re needing to move as much water as possible and we backed off on water, so we wanted to get your thoughts on how do you work, either daily or weekly, and is that based on performance?” National Beef employee Steve Thompson asked. 

“We actually ... and hopefully our new polymer gets here today ... but we had a problem bringing water in from Cell 8 because of algae,” Burke said. “So we got the polymer to help take care of some of that but then when we get to cleaning out the ponds, we had enough suspended solids to kill the oxygen there, so there was no algae. But then we had so many suspended solids and the polymer doesn’t work on suspended solids, so we’re changing that up and hopefully we can get a better settling grain. I won’t lie to you all, here’s where we are. The KDHE gave us a courtesy call saying we had messed up that part of the agreement, and the EPA would be calling too. I’m hoping they will physically come out here and then I can tell them the situation going on with maybe a couple of you gentlemen involved so I can say ‘This is our plan, this is what we’re doing – we have to clean up these lagoons, we’re building a pre-treatment plant, National Beef’s building a pre-treatment plant.’ After that I’m hoping it’ll be basically a slap on the wrist and they tell me not to do it again. But KDHE told me to get it right or it won’t be that way.”

Discussion continued in this vein for a few more minutes. 

“We would just like to have some system of checking the levels so we don’t lose a week or 10 days, if at all possible,” Thompson said. “It might not sound like a lot right now but come October or November, 10 days is a significant amount of water.”

“And everyone knows you can screw up as plant just overnight but it takes about two or three weeks to clean everything up,” Burke said. “What we’re hoping when we get this polymer going is it’ll get working and we may even use it more frequently to get to the max point we need to.”

“And I want to convey to the commission that our team is being very active on elimination of waste in the water and save as much water as we can,” Thompson said. “If you were to visit Cell 8 today, you’d see five cannons running with another one possibly coming soon, so we’ve spent time working on that evaporation. And the irrigation will also help clean some of that up and put more oxygen in it, so we’re working to be as proactive as we can on that end.” 

The National Beef team then gave an update regarding their work in reducing chloride levels. 

“The numbers we ran, the past couple tests came back at 360 going out of the plant, so it’s going down closer to where it needs to be,” Thompson said. “There are things we’re doing to be proactive with all that as well and our mission is to get the chlorides out as quickly as we can as well as we can.”

Burke then said there were a few items in the agreement still needing approval from respective legal counsels to be taken care of, and a few last questions were asked regarding the possibility of leasing some other parts of gravity line running by Arkalon Park.  

“Thank you all for your diligence in getting the chloride levels down, I know that was a concern on our end as far as being able to process everything,” Harden said. “It should all continue going smoothly and if we can figure out some numbers on these other pieces and hammer those out, we should be on track to have our plant done and your plant done in a decent amount of time. I’m glad to hear everything is going well. If there’s anything you need, just reach out and let us know.”