RUSS hopes purchase of pump truck leads to more revenue
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
In addition to owning and maintaining wastewater systems, the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) is looking to add another service.
During the organization’s board of directors meeting Wednesday in Mt. Pleasant, board members approved, pending a favorable inspection, the purchase of a 1998 Freightliner pump truck from Leison Pumping Inc., of Mt. Pleasant. Purchase price is $32,000 for the truck, which has approximately 500,000 miles.
Bruce Hudson, RUSS executive director, said that not only would the truck be used to pump out the 100 septic tanks RUSS owns and operates, but also would be able to pump out lift stations and septic tanks of private individuals.
Hudson said it costs RUSS $300 every time one of its septic tanks is pumped, and the rule of thumb is that tanks should be pumped every three to five years if not sooner.
Continuing, he said that RUSS has to find other sources of revenue since it has been several years since it has put in a wastewater system. “This is one thing we can do to help the revenue. I think we are to the point where we have to find other revenue somewhere. There are plenty of them (septic tanks) out there for all of us to do.”
Board Vice President Lee Dimmitt of Jefferson County agreed. “Communities and counties aren’t bringing systems to us.”
In his report, Hudson said one shut-off valve had been installed in the last month in both Mt. Union and Ollie. Also, a Mt. Union resident escaped a shut-off valve by working out a payment agreement with RUSS.
In addition to the septic tank pumping service, RUSS may have found other revenue sources as well. Hudson said he was meeting with the Parnell City Council Wednesday night to discuss operating, but not owning, the community’s wastewater system.
He said he did a walk through of the Parnell system on Jan. 24. “It was in bad shape,” he told the board. “It will take a lot of time to bring it up to date. However, it would fit into our realm.”
There may be more systems to operate in a few months. For nearly two years, RUSS has been talking with the Poweshiek Rural Water Association about operating four of its systems. “We are looking at taking over those systems in July,” Hudson stated.
The RUSS executive director lamented that new rules and regulations by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are making it more difficult and costly to operate systems. He mentioned that currently there are some issues with the Keswick wastewater system. “The lagoon is working as good or better than it ever has. They (DNR) are increasing the requirements and we can’t meet them. The community is taking the steps to improve its facilities, so why punish them?”
“We have an opportunity to expand and help out communities and do what we are charged to do and government agencies keep throwing roadblocks at us,” echoed Dimmitt. “They are trying to write regulations over which they have no knowledge.”
Steve Pedrick, an engineer with French-Reneker of Fairfield, said the problem is that “the EPA is becoming much more strict with the DNR and that is why you are seeing more regulations.”
Hudson also told the board that he will be traveling to Washington, D.C., this month and has meetings scheduled with Iowa’s U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. He is also attempting to set up meetings with EPA officials.
RUSS board members meet again in regular session Wednesday, March 8, at 1 p.m., in the Henry County Emergency Management Office.