Growth: check; annexation: check; sewage: hmmm

Bettendorf's elected city officials meet this weekend to set goals and land annexation to assure the city's steady northward sprawl will no doubt come up for discussion.

The more pressing issue when it comes to future growth, however, is sewage. Specifically how will the city handle the growing treatment needs for future homes and businesses located more than 20 miles from the Iowa Quad-Cities' only sewage treatment facility?

The distance from those future developments north of Interstate 80 to the sewage treatment plant isn't the only obstacle facing the city's ambitions for continued housing growth.Topography of the land north of I-80 slopes away from the Mississippi River – and the sewage treatment plant.

Expensive pumping stations will be needed to move sewage from north of I-80 down to sewer interceptor lines where gravity can complete the job of carrying waste the rest of the way to the treatment plant on Davenport's far west side along South Concord Street.

Of course, Bettendorf isn't alone in facing the sewage treatment dilemma. Davenport (along with Riverdale and Panorama Park) are joint owners of the Davenport Sewage Treatment Plant, and Davenport's future growth ambitions also includes areas north of I-80 and east of Highway 61.

Eldridge has its own sewage treatment plant, but residents there are still digesting a 15 percent increase in sewer fees to help pay for expansion of its treatment capacity. With completion of a $14-million treatment plant expansion, Eldridge expects to be able to handle a population increase from its current 6,000 residents to nearly 10,000.

The location and availability of sewer lines has long been a precursor for large subdivision developments, the kind Bettendorf has thrived on for the past three decades.

Some subdivisions, like Stoney Creek near Davenport Country Club, were been built using individual septic systems and private wells for drinking water. But being on a public sewer system makes a home much more attractive to buyers, and a sewage treatment plant is a necessity for any commercial or industrial development.

City sewer lines now end just south of I-80, and last year the city sought bids for a lift station, a first step needed to serve land north of I-80. That project, however, was put on the shelf after bids came in much higher than expected.

In a discussion earlier this year about annexation, City Administrator Decker Ploehn said it may be time to sit down with Davenport, Eldridge and LeClaire officials to talk about a treatment facility to handle sewage from the future growth areas north of I-80.

Since finding land and building such a facility could take a decade, so a discussion should probably be sooner than later.

Without a solution to the issue of sewage treatment, future growth will be limited for any of the Iowa Quad Cities, regardless of what land is annexed by each city.

Go to top