Friday, May 28, 2010

Kansas City to Improve Sewers, Decrease Overflows

The City of Kansas City, MO, agreed to make extensive improvements to its sewer systems, at a cost of more than $2.5 billion over 25 years, to eliminate unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage and to reduce pollution levels in urban stormwater. A consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri requires the city to implement an overflow control plan.

When completed, the sewer system will be able to capture and convey combined stormwater and sewage to the city’s treatment plants. This will keep untreated sewage from reaching surface waters.

Under the agreement, Kansas City will pay a civil penalty of $600,000 to the federal government, in addition to the $2.5 billion it will spend to repair, modify and rebuild its sewer system. As part of the agreement, the city will spend $1.6 million on a supplemental environmental project to implement a voluntary sewer connection and septic tank closure program for income-eligible residential property owners who elect to close their septic tanks and connect to the public sewer.

Kansas City’s, sewer system collects and receives domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater from a population of approximately 650,000 people in the city and 27 neighboring satellite communities, including a portion of Johnson County, KS. The system covers more than 420 square miles, and includes seven wastewater treatment plants, 38 pumping stations and more than 2,800 miles of sewer lines, making it one of the nation’s largest.

Of the 420 square miles covered by the system, 58 square miles mostly within the city’s urban core are presently served by combined sewers, which carry both stormwater and wastewater, and the remainder of the system is served by separated sewers. Under the consent decree, Kansas City has agreed to expedite certain projects that are expected to provide more immediate relief to residences and other properties situated in under-served areas of the city.

Since 2002, Kansas City has experienced approximately 1,294 illegal sewer overflows, including at least 138 unpermitted combined sewer overflows, 390 sanitary sewer overflows, and 766 backups in buildings and private properties. The overflows are in violation of the federal Clean Water Act and the terms of the city’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for operation of its sewer system.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site and on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 Web site.

You can read the original EPA news release here.

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