Freeburg water inspection results in several recommendations

By Theresa Brandt, Staff Writer
Posted 9/21/22

Freeburg has received an unsatisfactory finding for its public water system following an Aug. 18 inspection by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The village does not have an …

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Freeburg water inspection results in several recommendations

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Freeburg has received an unsatisfactory finding for its public water system following an Aug. 18 inspection by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The village does not have an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) in place, which is required by Missouri Safe Drinking Water Regulation; the regulation states that “all community water systems must develop a plan for assuring water service under emergency conditions.” 

The plan is to be reviewed annually and updated quarterly. Freeburg is required to develop an EOP and submit it to the DNR by Oct. 2.  

Mayor Darryl Haller is working with Public Works Director Doug Hamacher to fill out the paperwork and have it submitted before the deadline.

As a result of the inspection, DNR also made six recommendations for Freeburg’s water system. 

— The village has no system to track or record customer complaints. DNR believes that tracking and recording complaints can help identify problems within the water system. They recommend that records be kept for five years. 

— DNR also recommends that a written plan be developed for the main flushing program to ensure water quality. Currently, Freeburg flushes its water system once a year but does not have a written plan in place.  

— The recommendation was also made that Freeburg establish individual records and maintenance programs for all fire hydrants, flushing devices, and valves.  

— DNR noted that Freeburg’s wells were not being properly protected from corrosion. DNR recommended that the well-casing should be thoroughly cleaned and painted with rust preventative paint. 

— Freeburg’s 50,000-gallon storage tank is not equipped with a splash pad under the overflow pipe. DNR recommended that the splash pad be installed to prevent erosion that can be caused by water discharge from the overflow pipe. The concern is that the overflow typically follows one of the tower legs, and erosion at one of the tower legs can compromise the structural support of the water tower. DNR noted that the elevated storage tank shows signs of mold growth on the exterior. 

— DNR recommended power-washing the tank and protecting the storage tanks with security fencing and a locked gate. 

While DNR’s recommendations do not require immediate action by the city, trustees were quick to point out ways in which some of the recommendations could be met.

Hamacher also noted that there is a leaking connection in the wastewater pump station near Becker Hardware. 

“The main pipe is leaking and in pretty bad shape,” Hamacher reported. 

Initially, he thought the pipe was split, but after further inspection realized that the wastewater pipe was leaking at the elbow connection in the pit.

“I’m not sure how we get in (the pit) to fix that,” Hamacher said. “It’s been there since 1967.”

Haller recommended that Hamacher put a rubber gasket around the leaking connection. Hamacher agreed that might fix the problem but is unsure how to get in the pit to install the rubber gasket. Hamacher will continue to consult with his contacts to find a solution.

* Trustees approved the basic annual membership dues for the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC). Freeburg will pay yearly dues of $300.50.

* The village of Freeburg will meet in closed session on Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. to interview and possibly hire a new attorney. Freeburg’s longtime attorney Albert Crump has retired as of Sept. 1. 

Clerk Nicki Bax has researched municipal attorneys in the area and contacted other cities and villages in the surrounding areas to see who they recommend. Trustees agreed to have Bax contact Jamie Crump of Rolla, Nathan Nicholas from the Lauber Municipal Law Firm, David Bandre from Jefferson City, and Ross Bush, who is Vienna’s attorney.  

Bax will contact the four attorneys and set them up for 20-minute interviews. The trustees hope to hire a new lawyer that evening.

Haller noted that in the past, trustees budgeted minimal funds toward legal fees. 

“We’ve gotten away pretty cheaply for all these years,” Haller said. “If we want to do this right, it’s going to be 10 to 15 times as much money as we are used to spending.”

* Haller hopes that once a new lawyer is hired, the village of Freeburg can start updating its ordinances. Haller noted that a lot of the current regulations are outdated. 

“We have ordinances from 1906,” Haller said.

“And a lot of them need to be looked at,” Bax added. “I read through them, and I think I would need a law degree to make sense of them.”

“We need to modernize and update them,” Haller agreed. 

He noted that it is often hard to know what is legal and what the Board of Trustees is even allowed to do. 

“Legal is going to have to help us with that,” Haller said. “It’s going to take some money, and it’s going to take some time to do it.”

Haller noted that at last month’s meeting, there was a discussion with a resident about a dangerous dog. 

“We’re not even capable of enforcing (the ordinance) in this village,” Haller said. “We don’t have the staffing to do what we need to do.”

Haller had discussed the issue with the now retired Crump, who had suggested that fines be attached to ordinance violations. But Haller admitted that Crump had not been able to come up with anything more solid than that before he retired. It’s an issue that Haller believes needs to be brought up as soon as a new lawyer is hired.

* Trustees approved outstanding bills: general ($29,486.37), sewer ($383.68), and water ($4,751.58).

* Freeburg had a gross income of $27,126.77 for the month and operating expenses of $19,852.58.

* The water department had receipts of $5,906.16 for the month and operating expenses totaling $3,749.32.

* The village had the following account balances: sewer checking ($31,655.78), general revenue checking ($37,774.39), general revenue money market ($386,165.09), sewer money market, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds ($85,466.21), water revenue ($35,132.56), and water works money market ($645,343.97).

*The next regular meeting is scheduled for Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

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