Agencies Examining Half-Billion Dollar Sewer Plan

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The City of Evansville's more than $500 million sewer infrastructure overhaul proposal is the focus of discussions today in Washington D.C. and at the Indiana Statehouse. Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management rejected the 28-year plan. July 24, 2014

News Release

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Representatives for the City of Evansville are participating in high-level discussions concerning the City's proposed Integrated Overflow Control Plan (IOCP) during simultaneous meetings today in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke is meeting with officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Indianapolis, his letter to Congress is being entered into the record at a Congressional hearing on Capitol Hill, and Evansville's concerns will be presented to the subcommittee on Water for the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in testimony presented by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) disapproved a proposed $540 million plan submitted by the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility (EWSU) in May 2013 to significantly reduced combined sewer overflows or CSOs over a 28-year period. The EPA listed nine objections and outlined a more expensive solution over a shorter period of time that would create a greater financial burden on rate payers.

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and EWSU Director Allen Mounts, along with consultants, are responding to the EPA disapproval at a meeting with EPA Region 5 officials in Indianapolis. “Our administration’s goal is to comply with terms of the legally binding consent decree mandating improvements to the city’s archaic water and sewer system while developing a plan that is affordable for utility customers,” said Mayor Winnecke. “This is an enormous undertaking for the city, and residents are already feeling the burden of increased rates.”

Allen Mounts added, “Hopefully EPA will offer some direction and action steps on how to proceed following our discussions. We are trying to do everything we can to keep rates from going even higher."

Mayor Winnecke was invited by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to include Evansville's concerns in the testimony of the Conference to the Water Resource Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Information from Mayor Winnecke’s letter to Congress is incorporated into remarks being presented to the subcommittee by Lima, Ohio Mayor David Berger. The EPA is working with more than a dozen local governments on integrated plans, but to date no plan has been approved and only one plan (from the City of Evansville) has been disapproved.

Mayor Winnecke stated that Evansville's plan is "consistent" with EPA's CSO Control Policy, which ideally seeks to reduce overflows to zero per year and increase the percent of CSO volume capture to the range of 75 percent to 100 percent. The City's plan will reduce the number of overflow events from approximately 50 to no more than 12 per year and increase capture from 35 percent to 92 percent.

"Evansville is continuing to work with EPA and remains hopeful that EPA will not seek to impose additional burdens on Evansville families, particularly when Evansville has demonstrated that increasing controls and spending more money will not lead to increased improvements in water quality," Mayor Winnecke said in his statement.

Link to U.S. House subcommittee hearing: http://transportation.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=387841

Follow this link to the news release online on www.evansville.in.gov to download Mayor Winnecke's testimony and letter to the Water Resource Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Source: The City of Evansville