Johnson County Wastewater is a county department that operates under the direction of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, the County Manager, and the Deputy County Manager. The department has four organizational divisions: Operations and Maintenance, Customer Relations, Business Operations and Planning, and the Water Quality Laboratory. Each division performs unique tasks, but all work together toward one goal.
Protecting our environment
Serving our customers
Enhancing our communities
JCW seeks to be locally respected and nationally recognized for excellence in:
- Water Quality
- Customer service and stakeholder satisfaction
- Responsible and sustainable use of resource
- Emphasizes safe work habits and practices
- Empowers employee productivity, innovation and transfer of knowledge
- Provides training and education
The goal of wastewater treatment in any community is to eliminate disease-causing bacteria and to protect the environment for human and aquatic life. Before modern methods of wastewater treatment were introduced, the spread of life-threatening diseases was common in most communities across the country. JCW's role in Johnson County is to ensure that our streams, rivers and lakes are free from disease-causing bacteria and viruses that are harmful to the public health. As we learn more about the importance of protecting our natural resources, wastewater treatment becomes an obvious defense against water pollution.
- Above ground there are more than 4,500 assets at six major treatment plants, one small lagoon facility, and 29 pump stations with a replacement value of $325 million.
- Underground assets are even bigger, with an estimated replacement value of $1.7 billion that includes 54,000 manholes and almost 2,200 miles of pipe. That mileage is roughly equivalent to the distance, roundtrip, between Kansas City and Washington, D.C.
- JCW operates a total treatment capacity of 63.87 million gallons per day.
- Combined, our treatment plants are designed to serve more than 665,000 people in our service area. We serve more than 90,000 properties in approximately 1,027 sewer districts.
- JCW has issued an average of 1,545 sewer permits a year over the past five years and has added an average of 30 districts over the past five years. The fee schedule for 2012 is:
- $3,258 Connections Fee
- $1,629 System Development Fee
- $200 Permit Fee
- Beginning in November 2012, JCW customers will no longer see a separate wastewater charge for capital expenditures on their property tax bill under "Wastewater Cap." The charge will be equally distributed among the customer’s bills throughout the year. This charge is for capital projects, such as, rehabilitation of old sewer lines and the installation of new sewer lines, new plants, rehabilitation and repair projects, and other large expenditures. The number of Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDU's) assigned to the property is indicated for the tax bill's Wastewater Cap. The EDUs are based on an estimate of maximum daily flow associated with the type of establishment.
As early as 1945, Johnson County, Kansas, attempted to negotiate agreements with the City of Kansas City, Missouri, to have the City treat wastewater from the County. Terms were never agreed upon, and instead, Johnson County chose to build its own sewer system.
Johnson County's Board of County Commissioners created the first sewer district in the county in 1945. The Johnson County Sewer System was created at the same time. Two years passed and construction on the first treatment plant began before the Board hired a sole employee to manage the sewer system.
The Board hired Chief Engineer Myron K. Nelson as that employee. Mr. Nelson found himself to be the man who would lay the foundation for a growing wastewater treatment system in one of the fastest growing counties in the country at that time. He and his staff were responsible for laying the foundation of the sewer system both in physical buildings and lines, as well as philosophies of quality and determination.
The first treatment plant, then called Mission Township No. 1 Treatment Plant, began operation in 1949. In the 1940's and 1950's, subdivision after subdivision were developed in Johnson County. The Sewer System was hard pressed to keep up with the demand for sewers. In fact, many times there were not enough contractors available for the many jobs available. Four years after its completion, the Mission Township Plant was upgraded to double its treatment capacity from a population of 15,000 to 30,000. Soon afterward, construction on the second treatment plant would begin. >>>See our timeline, 60 years of service!
JCW's service area has grown from the one sewer district in 1945 to include over 900 districts. The one treatment plant in 1949 has grown to seven in 2010. Johnson County Wastewater presently employs approximately 206 people, compared to the one employee we hired in 1947.
JCW continues to meet the challenges of growth. One major accomplishment took place in 1995 with the completion of our newest regional treatment plant; the Mill Creek Regional Plant. It has proven to be an environmental and economic success for Johnson County. Located in Shawnee, Kansas, the plant provides vital sewer capacity for the fast growing cities of Shawnee, Lenexa and Olathe.
Primary treatment separates sand, grit and larger solids from the liquid by using screens, settling tanks and skimming devices. This process removes 45 to 50 percent of pollutants in wastewater. Secondary treatment cleans wastewater by applying air to stimulate the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that consume most of the remaining waste materials. Secondary treatment removes over 90 percent of pollutants from wastewater. This biological treatment mirrors the natural water purification process in streams. Some of our plants also have advanced treatment, called tertiary treatment.
One way is the trickling filter method. This process literally trickles wastewater over a special type of rock. Growing on the rock are billions and billions of microscopic bacteria that eat the organic matter dissolved in wastewater. This mass of bacteria is called zooglea and is always in a dynamic state. Careful monitoring of the process is necessary by our plant operators to ensure the correct amount of wastewater flows through the trickling filters. Without this monitoring, damage to the environment could occur.
In the 1970's, JCW began a newer treatment process called activated sludge. The activated sludge process uses the same type of bacteria as the trickling filter process to treat sewage. However, in this process, wastewater is mixed with the bacteria in large tanks. Air is supplied to these tanks to keep the contents mixed and to supply oxygen to the bacteria. The process uses more energy than the trickling filter process, but it is more effective in treating wastewater. For more information, please visit our Educational section.