Sarpy County sewer extends cities reach

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 7:31 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The county and its five cities are working together on a large sewer system.

This after getting a “no interest loan” from the Nebraska Environment and Energy Department.

“Half of our county doesn’t have any infrastructure with regards to sewer that would make it possible for future development and growth,” Sarpy County Commissioner Don Kelly said.

But that’s changing. Large sewer pipes stand by the ready for Sarpy County’s regional sewer system reaching into the southern part of the county.

The energetic project was made possible only with the formation of the Sarpy County and Cities Wastewater Agency, with the goal of continued growth in underdeveloped parts of the county.

Kelly is the chair of the agency.

“For something this large we really needed to partner with our five cities so as you know in politics it’s hard to get two people to agree to anything, but we actually got five mayors and a county board to agree on that,” Kelly said.

Forty elected officials from the counties of Papillion, Springfield, La Vista, Gretna, and Bellevue agreed to the project.

Phase One calls for pipe to be laid along Highway 50 toward Springfield and then toward Bellevue. Twenty miles of pipe altogether eventually hooking into the wastewater treatment plant on the Missouri River.

“This project will open 97,000 more taxable parcels in the county which is really in essence nearly double the tax revenue that the county and the cities will gain,” Kelly said.

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Springfield and Papillion will see the benefits of the project first.

“The growth hasn’t moved south because there wasn’t sewer infrastructure,” Papillion Mayor David Black said. “We were getting to the end of our developable area, which is why this project was so important. We put this sewer in place, and we can go down to the Platte River.”

Mayor Black said the five cities agreed on growth boundaries that would benefit each community.

“So, if Papillion grows to its full build-out to the boundaries, we figure we could be a community of 70 to 90,000, third-largest city in Nebraska,” he said.

“It’s going to open up 30,000 acres to future development and it’s going to have a remarkable impact on our growth,” Kelly said.

Robin Nielsen sure hopes so. She owns and operates Robin’s Nest in Springfield.

“Hopefully it will get more housing down this way,” she said. “There’s so much to do down here anyway so it would be great if we can get the housing and get the people coming down.”

Nielsen said she likes the small-town feel of Springfield but knows for the area to thrive and grow, progress has to happen.

“All of this can help,” she said.

When complete, the sewer system is expected to cost around a quarter of a billion dollars and be built over the next 20 to 50 years.

No property tax dollars will be used for paying back the loan. That will be covered by residents and businesses as they hook into the system.

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