Iowa Rural Water Saves Community $75,000 in Wastewater Upgrade


NEWTON, Iowa – When the City of Panama, Iowa needed to upgrade its wastewater treatment system to comply with stricter Ammonia, Nitrogen and E-Coli disinfection standards, the community of 250 found itself staring at huge upgrade costs and –ongoing maintenance problems. Assistance from the Iowa Rural Water Association helped save the city over $75,000, choose a less time-intensive solution and apply for a USDA loan package.

The initial plan was to use a mechanical processing plant. Iowa Wastewater Technician John Veach met with the state engineer and a USDA loan specialist to review various options.

“They preferred a mechanical plant over a much simpler controlled discharge lagoon,” Veach explained. “It appeared that initial cost was the deciding factor.”

While the initial costs were lower, the mechanical plant would be more labor-intensive and require more advanced staff training to operate. Once the life-cycle costs were calculated, the expense of the two solution began to balance, with the simpler lagoon system having the advantage of being less labor-intensive.

Veach worked with the system to ensure their USDA loan and grant package would offset any additional up-front costs. He followed-up by meeting with the Panama mayor, city council and engineering firm to discuss the two approaches and the life-cycle cost of each system.

Veach’s work will save the community over $75,000 and provide options that require less labor and maintenance.