SATURDAY16_2

Ron Eklund looks east at a flooded Main Street on the eastern edge of Plattsmouth on March 16.

Plattsmouth residents will have to conserve water for at least six more months, until the city can get its flooded water treatment plant back online.

“We’re in no man’s land as far as repairs to the drinking water treatment plant goes because the water’s not deep enough to get there by boat and too high to reach it by truck,” Plattsmouth City Administrator Erv Portis said Tuesday. “We’ve set a goal of six months to reopen the drinking water plant, and we’re doing everything we can to beat that goal.”

The city’s water treatment facility was shut down March 14 due to flooding. Plattsmouth is getting its drinking water from the Cass County Rural Water system, but that system is only able to supply about two-thirds of the needed drinking water.

As a result, residents are prohibited from watering lawns, washing cars in driveways or filling private pools. Restaurants are asked to serve water only if it’s requested.

The city’s outdoor pool, which holds 270,000 gallons of water, won’t be filled until the emergency is over, Portis said. Use of the Plattsmouth Community Center’s indoor pool, which is full, is being limited to health-related classes such as senior citizens’ aquatherapy.

“Our residents are doing OK conserving water,” Portis said. “Our usage crept up last weekend, so we need to keep spreading the message of conservation.”

An engineering firm’s survey of the water treatment plant found that much of the electrical system will need to be replaced or repaired.

“We are looking at what needs to be pulled out and replaced. Our electrical lines to well fields are probably also going to need to all be replaced,” Portis said.

It could take more than six months to get the city’s wastewater treatment plant back in operation, meaning that raw sewage will continue to be dumped into the Missouri River for the foreseeable future.

Portis said Plattsmouth’s wastewater plant discharges “about a million gallons a day” into the Missouri.

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“The damage to the (Plattsmouth) wastewater plant is just brutal and is going to require much more work (than the water treatment plant),” Portis said. “We’d like to get it repaired in six months, but I think that’s overly optimistic.”

Nearly 50 wastewater treatment facilities, including those connected to Omaha, Columbus and Nebraska City, at one point reported problems, including cases where wastewater wasn’t being fully treated before it was discharged.

The Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant near Bellevue is shut down, forcing Omaha to dump about 65 million gallons of raw, untreated sewage into the Papillion Creek near the mouth of the Missouri River.