WEBB CITY, MO.--- "Our zinc level is about two times what it should be," said Carl Francis, Webb City City Administrator.
Since Webb City was a mining town, zinc has been running through the sewer pipes, flowing into the waste water treatment plant and getting discharged into Center Creek. City officials have been working on a plan for nearly three years with federal and state agencies to try and reduce their metal output from their sewer treatment plant.
"We have come up with the idea of taking the wetlands and using it to treat for metals. And you can do that with certain types of vegetation in what's called a bio-cell reactor," said Francis.
The bio-cell reactor will be next to the wetlands and will capture metals that come out of the plant.
"We will be able to clean them out and dispose of them in hazardous waste sights," he said.
Then the water will go into the wetlands and provide vegetation.
"Vegetation that will go in there will help remove some of the heavy metals that are a by-product of the mining area," said William Runkle, Webb City Water Utilities Director.
"It's going to help us. We believe bring our zinc level down specifically to a manageable level, that will bring us in compliance with our current waste water permit," said Francis.
The EPA is working now to cleanup the mine waste in the area the wetlands will go. Runkle says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department is also helping them create a habitat for wildlife.
"We are trying to establish a habitat that coincides with the waste water treatment plant," said Runkle.
"We're in the process now of going over contractual arrangements to purchase these properties," said Francis.
Though the location isn't finalized, the habitat will cover around a thousand acres of land.
"We really think that the habitat area will be a big plus for our city, and we hope to build trails and picnic tables and have it there for the enjoyment of all," said Francis.
These projects will be funded through a land reclamation lawsuit from decades ago. Construction will begin in the next 12 months and it could take a year to complete.