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City halts development on east side

A house is under construction in the Aspen Ridge housing addition in Midwest City. Photo by Jeff Harrison

Concerns about sewer system capacity issues leads to moratorium

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

Midwest City has put the brakes on development on the east side.

The city council recently approved a moratorium on construction and development due to capacity issues with the city’s wastewater system in the east side.
A study showed that the city needs to upgrade its sewer system to accommodate current and future development on the east side. Consultants with Freese and Nichols, Inc., identified nearly $30 million in projects over the next two decades, including expanding capacity at lift stations and installing new sewer lines.

The area is served by nine collection lift stations that help carry wastewater over a ridgeline and to the sewer plant. Officials say two of the lift stations are currently over capacity. They included the East I-5 lift station, 11246 SE 15th St., which is running at nearly twice capacity of .22 million gallons per day. The Hiawassee station, 12800 SE 15th St., has a capacity of .76 MGD and handles .90 MGD during peak wet weather.

City staff urged the council to act and slow new development until upgrades to the wastewater system can be made. Paul Streets, public works director, said failure of the Edgewood lift station, 1150 NE 5th St., would result in nearly half of the wastewater being diverted to local creeks.

“I think this is a bigger deal than we’ve made it,” Paul Streets said. “I don’t think we’ve given it the same priority with previous iterations of leadership.”

Under the moratorium, the city will not allow any future preliminary plats or minor plats in the identified area. The city will restrict any new construction permits that include a new connection to the wastewater collection system or those that would add volume to the wastewater collection system. Construction permits for projects that do not have a DEQ permit would not be allowed.

No sewer taps for any residential site that is not included in a city approved preliminary or minor plat would be allowed.

Exceptions include developments that do not connect to the city’s wastewater collection system, or those that pump or flow wastewater to a lift station outside of the identified area.

Councilman Pat Byrne asked if someone builds a house using a septic system or alternative system would they be required to tie into the city’s sewer system down the road.

“I don’t think it’s fair to them if they follow the rules and then we require them to hook into the sewer system,” Byrne said. “I would hope we not come back and force them to hook into the sewer system because they would have already spent a lot of money on it.”

Lyon agreed with Byrne and said they would need to study it further.

The city council will be required to reevaluate the moratorium at least every six months.

About 226 houses are part of plats that were already approved by the council and will not be impacted by the moratorium. That includes Turtlewood, Timber Ridge, the Curve, and Friendly Acres.

“We feel comfortable that we can go ahead and build these houses and then we’ll look at what capacity and upgrades that we can make in 90 days,” said Tim Lyon, city manager.

In a related item, Freese and Nichols will complete a study on funding mechanisms or possible funding sources to complete the recommended wastewater system improvements to the east side. The firm will also conduct a cursory financial review of the city’s entire sewer system.

Freese and Nichols is also helping the city review ways to improve capacity of the sewer system in the short term. A study will be completed within 90 days.

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