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Wastewater

Phone: 913-715-8500

11811 S. Sunset Drive, Suite 2500, Olathe, Kansas 66061

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wastewater department

Johnson County Wastewater is responsible for the safe collection, transportation, and treatment of wastewater generated by residential, industrial, and commercial customers. Johnson County Wastewater works to eliminate disease-causing bacteria and to protect the environment for human and aquatic life. Johnson County Wastewater's role is to ensure that our streams, rivers and lakes are free from disease-causing bacteria and viruses that are harmful to the public health.

Department News

An explanation of your JCW bill
May 22, 2018

The increase in rates over the past two decades has climbed, but the comparison to the bill then versus now is not a clear-cut one

The capital and operating rates are now combined into a single rate because we changed our capital rate methodology to be the same as our operating rate, which is based on water use. This change means it is not possible to accurately calculate the percentage increase of rates when comparing current rates to those charged prior to 2014 without assistance from JCW staff. 

The user charge rate prior to 2014 did not include a capital component as it does today. To accurately compare rates, you have to include the capital portion of JCW’s rates.  Prior to 2012, capital costs were recovered by the fixed Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU) charge that was billed on the annual real estate tax statements. In 2013, JCW moved the EDU from the tax roll to the user charge bill.

In 2014, JCW completed a multi-year conversion of its billing method to a unified rate model. This was the first year JCW billed a combined rate and the larger than normal increases in the service charge and volume rates were due to adding the capital component to the rates.  

There are several reasons for annual rate increases. They include:

  1. Inflation – The industry sees increased costs to do business, including costs for power, chemicals, solids disposal and labor costs.
  2. Water quality compliance requirements is another driver of increased costs.  Because the water is returned to streams, river, etc. once it has been treated, the EPA continues to increase regulatory requirements to protect public health, protect the environment and ensure clean water.  For example, JCW has been directed to uphold:
  • New ammonia release criteria for area waterways, which will provide better protection for fish and other aquatic life. 
  • Increased nutrient removal requirements.  Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus facilitate algae growth which results in the oxygen depletion that affect fish and other aquatic life in local streams and lakes as well as larger downstream water bodies such as the Gulf of Mexico where large fish kills have occurred over the last several decades. 

Continued investment in preventive maintenance – Unlike many utilities, JCW has a fiscally responsible and proactive asset management, maintenance and repair program that helps keep the cost of operating and maintaining the wastewater system lower by avoiding expensive repairs and clean-up costs resulting from deferred maintenance of sanitary sewer pipes and wastewater treatment equipment.  By reinvesting in our aging system, JCW has significantly reduced the occurrences of collapsing pipes and public health issues from back-ups and raw sewage overflows.  By investing a little at a time you get more out of the system by improving the durability, life and reliability of the county’s assets, thus lessening the impact to rates.

In 2018, JCW’s revenue requirement increased by 7 percent, which equates to $2.38 a month for the median household or $4.76 on each bi-monthly bill. The revenue requirement represents the total amount of money JCW must collect from customers to pay all costs.  This increase is higher than those in previous years due to several factors as well as the Tomahawk Plant expansion, which will help keep rates lower once the project is completed in 2022. We are investing now to save more over the long term.  

Residential charges are determined by multiplying the annual volume of average winter water usage (AWWU) by the rate and adding the customer service charge [(Volume x Rate) + customer service charge = Amount]. This amount will be divided by 12 calendar months, which will give you your monthly charge. Since residential customers are billed bimonthly, your bill has two months' worth of wastewater charges.

The AWWU is your average water usage during winter months based on meter readings. This is the best measure of the volume of drinkable water used at the property during the winter months that reasonably estimates the volume of wastewater discharged to the wastewater treatment facilities of Johnson County Wastewater. By using winter water usage, Johnson County Wastewater can accurately estimate the volume of wastewater discharged into the treatment facilities by each property. Winter water usage is used to avoid charging for heavier summer uses that do not impact the wastewater treatment system like watering your lawn and garden, washing your car, or filling your swimming pool.

A large increase in your average winter water use (AWWU) will impact wastewater charges more than rate increases.  

JCW’s rates are among the lowest in the metro and have been consistently so for many years because we have pro-actively reinvested in our system with activities such as repair, replacement and preventative maintenance. Our collection system is a huge investment worth $1.7 billion. See how JCW compares to other wastewater utilities. (Rate comparison chart for 2018.)

The expansion and upgrade of the Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility is only one of several factors that causes rate increases every year.  By increasing the size of the plant, we will no longer need to send 60 percent of our wastewater which is treated at the Tomahawk Creek facility to Kansas City, Missouri, for treatment, allowing us to better control our costs and be much more efficient. Therefore, the Tomahawk Project will significantly lessen the amount of rate increases in the future. 

Once the project is completed, we will be saving approximately $16 million annually by not sending flow to KCMO and paying them to do the treatment.  Over a 35 year period, it will save JCW hundreds of millions of dollars.  Without the improvements to Tomahawk, significant savings would not be possible in the future because we would continue to pay KCMO for treatment, and this would result in much higher annual rate increases for customers. 

(Please visit the Tomahawk project page for more information).

Did you know that it costs more to treat wastewater than it does drinking water?
Wastewater is very heavily regulated and has more pollutants than water used as drinking water - we have more pollutants to remove to ensure we are protecting public health, aquatic life and the environment.

JCW plants all achieve 100% permit compliance in 2016
August 30, 2017

Each year the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) recognizes public wastewater facilities for outstanding compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits. This recognition program consists of Peak Performance Awards in three categories - Platinum, Gold and Silver.

Johnson County Wastewater was recognized in July at the NACWA national conference held in St. Louis for its outstanding compliance records in the 2016 calendar year.

Two JCW treatment facilities received the Gold Peak Performance Award which honors treatment works that have achieved 100 percent compliance with the NPDES permit for 2016.

  • The Myron K. Nelson Plant
  • The Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin Plant

This year, JCW is proud to announce they received four Platinum Peak Performance Awards to honor treatment works that have completed at least five years of complete and consistent National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit compliance. This is the highest number of Platinum Awards the department has ever earned. The county's Platinum Award recipients are:

  • The New Century AirCenter and the Tomahawk Creek plants for five years of permit compliance, 
  • The Mill Creek Regional Plant for ten years of permit compliance, and
  • The Blue River Main Plant for eleven years of permit compliance. 

Staff members were recognized at the regular meeting of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners last Thursday.

Platinum Awardees were featured in a video presentation at an awards ceremony during NACWA's 2017 Summer Conference, and in the video, facility staff were asked to "jump" for clean water - with a prize at stake for best photo. 

General Manager Susan Pekarek has high praise for the employees. "All of you are very humble. You are committed to keeping public health and the environment safe. You do what it takes, not only operating and maintaining our systems during the day, but also coming in to work in the middle of the night, on weekends and holidays. You don't brag on yourselves; you simply do what you are committed to do. And nearly all the time, you do it without anyone in the public knowing how you are taking care to protect them. For that, I thank you. Keep up the great work. The rest of the leadership team and I are so very proud of all you!"  

Better flood protection available
August 10, 2017

In the past, some Johnson County homeowners have faced the frustrating challenge of basement flooding during extremely heavy rains. There are several common causes for wet basements. Because Johnson County Wastewater wants to help you better protect your home during these rains, a Backup Prevention Program is available to homeowners. This program is voluntary and provides funding to eligible homeowners so they may install a backup prevention device or make plumbing modifications on their property.

For details about this program and whether you might be eligible, go to Johnson County Wastewater Backup Prevention Program.

Request for subcontractors
July 24, 2017

Would you like to be part of the $250 million expansion of the Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility? If so, you'll be interested in this Subcontractor and Vendor Project Introduction on July 25. The event will showcase the needed subcontractor work with McCarthy representatives there to answer questions. 

The event is set for Tuesday, July 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton, 10100 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS. Please RSVP to monica@shockyconsulting.com.

Go to mccarthytomahawkwwtf.com:

  • For additional information about subcontractor needs
  • To register for this project
  • Begin the prequalification process
  • To receive all future correspondence on the project as well as invitations to bid

Project Background: The Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility, located at 10701 Lee Boulevard in Leawood, was originally built in 1955. The facility treats wastewater from the Tomahawk Creek watershed, the Indian Creek watershed downstream of the Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin Wastewater Treatment Facility (Lower Indian Creek), and the Dykes Branch sub-watershed. Johnson County Wastewater is expanding the facility to 19 Million Gallons per Day (MGD). It currently treats 7 (MGD). Black & Veatch/HDR engineering team recently completed the Project Definition Phase of the expansion and McCarthy has been hired as the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) for the project.

Construction Schedule: The Tomahawk project is scheduled to start in 2018 with completion in 2021.

Who is McCarthy? McCarthy has been building Water/Wastewater projects for more than 30 years and has completed projects all across the country. Join our team for this major community investment in wastewater infrastructure.

Subcontractors are needed in these areas.

Public Health Advisory Lifted For Water in Brush Creek
May 17, 2017

In collaboration with Johnson County Wastewater, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment has lifted a health advisory for residents living in the area between 55th and Mission and 75thand Mission. The advisory was issued Saturday, May 13 due to a sanitary sewer overflow into Brush Creek in the areas of Prairie Village and Mission Hills.

Johnson County Wastewater crews investigated the source and determined a private contractor unknowingly drilled into a sewer line in the area near Tomahawk Road and Mission Road.  The damaged line has been repaired. The Wastewater Department flushed the creek in the area and tested the water.  Bacteria levels have returned to normal allowing the advisory to be lifted today.  

If you have questions about the advisory being lifted, please call 913-477-8436.

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