Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Sewer overflow settlements reached for cities
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 6, 2007) – Landmark orders agreed to by the state and 15 communities will substantially reduce the public health dangers from the discharge of untreated sewage into Kentucky’s waters, Teresa J. Hill, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC) announced today.
The orders embodied in consent decrees with the communities - from Paducah to Ashland - require elimination of combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The cabinet has previously filed consent decrees for Louisville and northern Kentucky and now has reached agreement on consent decrees addressing all other CSO discharges in the state. The consent decrees are being filed in Franklin Circuit Court.
Combined sewer systems collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage and industrial wastewater in the same pipe. During periods of heavy rainfall, the volume in a combined sewer system may exceed capacity, directly discharging untreated wastewater into creeks, streams and rivers.
“CSOs have caused significant damage to Kentucky’s most valuable resource, caused property damage and threatened the health of our communities,” said Hill. “This action marks a truly monumental step to significantly improve water quality in the state.”
Under the settlements, 94 CSOs will be eliminated, along with 77 sanitary sewer overflows, which occur when rainwater or groundwater gets into sewers designed to carry only wastewater. The CSOs to be addressed under the consent decrees are located in the following communities:
The cabinet is assessing a total of $171,000 in civil penalties against the communities, with the largest levied against Frankfort ($50,000) and the smallest against Worthington ($1,000).
Under the consent decrees, the communities will be required to implement nine minimum controls (NMCs) contained in a policy adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The NMCs are minimum, short-term, technology-based controls used to address CSO problems without extensive engineering studies or significant construction costs. They precede the implementation of long-term control measures.
The communities also are to develop long-term control plans that include public participation, cost/performance considerations, operational plans and an implementation schedule for CSO controls that will bring the cities into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.
More than 246,000 Kentuckians live in the 15 communities affected by the sewer overflows.
“I want to applaud the leadership in each of the communities for working with us to craft solutions that are deliberate, appropriate and compliant with stringent federal water quality standards,” Hill said. “Thanks to the unbridled spirit of cooperation we can now say we are moving safely and securely ahead.”