County Update: Commissioner Hanzlick answers questions about wastewater and stormwater services

Commissioner Janee hanzlick.

Each week we provide a member of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners the opportunity to share an update on what issues are catching their attention. This week, we have a column from District 4 Commissioner Janeé Hanzlick, whose district includes much of central Overland Park.

Have you ever wondered what happens to all the dirty water you send down the drain or flush down your toilet? Probably not. Most people don’t give wastewater a second thought until it’s time to pay the bill. However, Johnson County Wastewater’s efficient and cost-effective operations go on every day behind the scenes, without our usually thinking about them. In this week’s County Commissioner column, I address some frequently asked questions about Johnson County Wastewater (JCW).

1. What is the difference between wastewater and stormwater?
Wastewater is used water from homes and businesses, including water from sinks, showers, bathtubs, and toilets. Stormwater is water from rain and other sources that drains into a street drainage system where it flows to streams and creeks. Johnson County has separate systems and lines for wastewater and storm water. Storm water systems are maintained by the cities and by Johnson County Public Works in the unincorporated areas of the county.

2. Are Johnson County Wastewater and WaterOne the same organization?
No – Johnson County Wastewater is a fee-funded county department that provides sanitary sewer services under the authority of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners. WaterOne is an independent public utility that provides drinking water and operates under its own elected governing board.

3. What kinds of items should I avoid putting down sanitary sewers and drains?
Don’t use sewers and drains for anything other than human waste, toilet tissue, and minimal ground food waste. Never use toilets or drains to dispose of baby wipes, personal wipes, diapers, prescription and over-the-counter medications, hygiene products, or grease. Your local police station or pharmacy may offer free medication disposal.

4. How is my wastewater bill calculated?
Your bill is determined by assuming that the clean water that comes into your home becomes the dirty water that goes out of your house through the wastewater system. Your bill is based on your average water usage during the winter, specifically on four of the six months between November and April, depending on your billing cycle. Using winter water usage ensures that you aren’t charged for water used for sprinkler systems or swimming pools.

5. How do Johnson County’s Wastewater rates compare to other rates in the metro?
Johnson County Wastewater has the second lowest wastewater rate in the metro area – nearly half the rate of the area’s most expensive provider! County wastewater rates have been consistently low for many years because JCW has pro-actively invested in our system with regular repair, replacement and state of the art preventative maintenance.

6. What is the status of the Tomahawk Wastewater Treatment Plant near I-435 and Mission?
To meet the needs of the plant’s service area for the next 25 years and beyond, Johnson County Wastewater is constructing a new expanded facility at the site of the Tomahawk Wastewater Treatment Plant. By increasing the size of the plant, JCW will no longer need to send part of our wastewater to Kansas City, Missouri, for treatment, allowing JCW to better control costs and be more efficient. Therefore, the Tomahawk Project will significantly lessen the amount of rate increases in the future. JCW expects to be treating wastewater at the facility by the end of 2021, with project completion in early 2022.

As residents and ratepayers in Johnson County, we can be grateful to Johnson County Wastewater for working hard every day to ensure the health, safety and efficiency of our wastewater system.

For more information about Johnson County Wastewater, go to the organization’s website here. If you have questions about your wastewater bill, please call 913-715-8590.