Three county sewer districts may be combined into one to leverage more resources needed to meet new state environmental rules.

The three sewer districts, which are located in eastern Franklin County, are the Labadie Sewer District, Gray Summit and Beauty View.

The state Department of Natural Resources is requiring sewer districts statewide to meet enhanced requirements for sewage treatment, said Dan Buescher, attorney for the Labadie Sewer District.

“They will be able to as a combined district hopefully obtain funds through the USDA Department of Agriculture Rural Development Division,” Buescher said after a meeting with county commissioners last Thursday.

He said he hopes federal funding can be obtained so the project can be financed with bonds that could be paid off over about 30 years.

A cost of the project has not been determined as the next steps involve getting more detailed engineering plans for the additional sewer lines and enhanced treatment system.

Under state law, to combine sewer districts, the boundaries must be contiguous, or adjoining. These districts are not adjoining, which means the boundaries would have to be expanded to make them connect.

In Missouri, sewage is treated and discharged into streams and creeks. The new state standards are stricter on ammonia and certain particles in the water, said Brandon Bardot, associate counsel for the Labadie Sewer District.

No deadlines to come into compliance with the new standards have been published by the DNR, Buescher said.

“It affects all sewage treatment plant permit holders in the state,” Buescher said, adding that he has been asked by the three eastern Franklin County districts to work on joining them as one.

The three districts are all in agreement that the districts need to be combined, Buescher said.

The county commission would have to approve the combined districts, and Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said he thinks it is a good idea.

The bond debts to improve the sewer system would belong to the combined district not the county.

Bardot said it is unclear how the project will affect rates for those who live in the districts.

The Labadie District has 71 homes; Gray Summit, 106; and Beauty View, 55.

Other customers, including businesses, also are in the sewer districts.