The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management have rejected a more than $500 million plan to overhaul Evansville's sewer infrastructure. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke says the 28-year proposal was turned down primarily because of a belief that the city “can afford to pay more.” June 23, 2014
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (June 20, 2014) – After a year of review, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) have disapproved Evansville's proposed Integrated Overflow Control Plan (IOCP), submitted by the City of Evansville and the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility (EWSU) in May 2013.
In response, the City of Evansville and EWSU has issued a Notice of Dispute regarding the disapproval of Evansville's IOCP. A team representing the City of Evansville and EWSU will meet with the EPA and IDEM in July to gain an understanding of why they disapproved the plan and determine next steps. It is likely a series of meetings will follow. Already, several EPA-approved, preliminary IOCP projects are underway.
“The City of Evansville has consistently outlined parameters of an affordable plan and has submitted a plan to the EPA that both protects human health and the environment, and is economically achievable,” said Mayor Lloyd Winnecke. “We will continue to fight hard for an affordable plan.”
EWSU's proposed 28-year, $540 million plan, called Renew Evansville, will significantly upgrade Evansville’s sewer system infrastructure, improve operations and reduce water pollution. EWSU has proposed a plan that aims to capture 92 percent of wet weather flow in the combined sewer system. The Utility is proposing a 28-year implementation schedule to help keep rates as affordable as possible, ensuring rates for in-city customers do not exceed 2 percent of Evansville's median household income.
Projects will address combined sewer overflows and backups in the separate sanitary sewer system. Combined sewer overflows occur when stormwater and sanitary wastewater exceed the capacity of the combined sewer infrastructure, resulting in sewage going into the Ohio River and Pigeon Creek.
The EPA's seven-page response details several technical reasons for disputing the plan, but the primary objection appears to be a belief that Evansville can afford to pay more.
Since 2010, the City of Evansville and EWSU have submitted voluminous material to the EPA regarding the City's plan and financial capability.
Winnecke added, “The EPA's CSO Policy clearly states that the financial health of the community is a factor in determining cost and schedule for sewer upgrades. Mayors and communities across America are aggressively pursuing change in EPA’s approach to push communities to deliver plans they can't afford.”
Renew Evansville is the largest capital improvement project in Evansville’s history.
The Evansville Water and Sewer Utility serves approximately 60,000 customers. Its system includes more than 1,000 miles of water main line, a water filtration plant and 6,000 fire hydrants. Additionally, the Utility maintains more than 800 miles of sewer lines and manages two wastewater treatment plants. www.ewsu.com
Source: The City of Evansville