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Sarpy Sewer Project to Generate Billions in Tax Revenue and New Spending, Economic Impact Study Finds

You’ve heard the phrase, if you build it, they will come. What people might not realize is what you have to build first. 

A high-impact, once-in-a-generation wastewater project in Sarpy County is estimated to help drive billions of dollars in new spending, billions of dollars in tax revenue and create thousands of jobs, according to a new economic impact study by Hunden Strategic Partners.

The Sarpy County and Cities Wastewater Agency (SCCWWA) is spearheading the effort to break down a significant barrier to continued growth in the area. The group commissioned the Hunden study to analyze both the need for an expanded sewer system and the system’s economic impact to the county, nearby cities and state. 

The study, released November 16, confirmed that the sewer system is critical to future economic growth across the entire area, which would otherwise eventually stall.  

As a result of the new sewer infrastructure, commercial, residential and industrial development are expected to generate more than $37 billion in net new spending, $24 billion in net new earnings and approximately 4,740 new full-time jobs over the next 30 years.  

The project will also support one-time construction impacts during the same period, including an estimated $17 billion in local labor spending. 

Sarpy County is the fastest-growing county in Nebraska – its population climbed 20% between 2010 and 2020, compared to 7% growth across the U.S. But to sustain that continued linear rise, the county needs proper sewer infrastructure that will keep pace.

Existing infrastructure does not allow for additional development in the southern part of the county, despite residential and commercial demand. If slow to act, developers would likely move to nearby states where land and infrastructure are more easily accessible; local government and the State of Nebraska would lose significant potential revenue. 

As outlined in the report, growth in Sarpy County has primarily occurred in areas where public water supplies and municipal sewerage systems are available, predominantly north of the ridgeline.

The wastewater project will be concentrated south of the Sarpy ridgeline in an area that is now primarily rural land. It will impact development in both directions, according to the report, though the southern portion of the county will see the most direct benefit, with the sewer system accounting for roughly 45% of future county growth. 

Sarpy County’s geographic and demographic makeup make it a uniquely attractive place for economic development that benefits industrial and commercial businesses, as well as those who live in the county.

It is centrally located, near the interstate system and within one hour of Nebraska’s two largest cities. 

The study reported that in the greater Omaha area, growth is trending south and west, which is also advantageous for Sarpy and the potential area that the project could support.

The report notes that Sarpy’s current population also has more disposable income -- the median household income is more than $83,000, which is approximately $18,000 higher than the national average. This data point underscores a market that is ripe for development.

A zero-interest loan from the NDEE will fund the first phase of the project, which started this year; user rates and connection fees will then be used to fund the system. The system is expected to cost $250 million and will be built in phases over 20-50 years as funding becomes available. 

The Sarpy County and Cities Wastewater Agency’s aim is to support future economic development in a fiscally responsible, holistic way that supports demand and: 

• Provides a county-wide benefit through targeted development

• Ensures that those who benefit from the system contribute to its development, operation and maintenance 

• Offers predictability for private investment 

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