Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Settlement outlines long-term plan to combat sewer overflows
FORT WRIGHT, Ky. (Oct. 7, 2005) - The Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reached a settlement with Sanitation District No. 1 to address sewer overflows and improve water quality in Northern Kentucky, state and local officials announced today. The settlement will be the first in the nation to use a watershed approach in addressing sewer overflows, officials said.
The settlement, to be finalized in a consent decree filed in U.S. District Court at Covington, calls for a 20-year plan to improve the area’s waterways by addressing raw sewage overflows from the combined and separated sewer systems. The settlement features an innovative watershed approach to produce comprehensive assessment of the cumulative impacts of pollution sources on receiving waters.
"This settlement takes a holistic approach to improving water quality in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which will ensure that our communities are protected and our quality of life is preserved," Lloyd Cress, Commissioner of the State Department for Environmental Protection (DEP), said. "The unique watershed approach set forth in this consent decree should serve as a benchmark for other utilities across the nation facing similar issues."
Watershed plans will be developed for each of the region’s four major watersheds to strategically identify, evaluate, prioritize and correct the principal pollution factors unique to each area. These plans are required to include components for a Long Term Control Plan addressing combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and a Sanitary Sewer Overflow Plan to address overflows in the separate sewer system.
Jeff Eger, General Manager of the District, said, "Sanitation District No. 1 has been working diligently since the mid-1990s to deal with the infrastructure problems inherited when the aging sanitary systems were turned over to the District’s care from the municipalities of Northern Kentucky."
He added, "We have made great progress in the last 10 years, including the reduction of over 50 sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), elimination of over 1,000 failing septic systems, and we have spent over $65 million upgrading and rehabilitating pump stations and sanitary sewer lines. But there is still much to be done, and it is a daunting challenge to meet these regulations without significant funding from either the state or federal government."
The settlement will require SD1 to invest an estimated $880 million over the next 20 years to implement specific corrective action plans to bring CSOs into compliance with water quality standards and to eliminate SSOs. SD1 is also required to complete self-assessments of its management, operation and maintenance programs to prevent future overflows and respond to overflows when they occur.
A financial analysis will be completed over the next several months to determine the impact of these needs on sanitary sewer rates, but there is no doubt that rates will have to increase. To minimize the impact on customers, the District will continue to seek grant funding and utilize low interest rate bonds.
The settlement is multi-dimensional, encompassing the following key components:
· Submittal of documentation demonstrating the status of the District’s compliance with the Nine Minimum Controls for CSOs as set forth in the CSO Control Policy published by EPA in 1994
· Development of a self-assessment of capacity management operations and maintenance programs for the District’s sanitary sewer system and combined sewer system to prevent future overflows and respond to overflows when they occur
· Development and enforcement of a grease control program to assure that grease accumulation does not restrict the capacity of the sewer system and contribute to sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs)
· Development of a pump station operation plan that evaluates the District’s pump stations and includes schedules for providing appropriate measures for addressing power outages
· Submittal of a sewer overflow response plan for responding to and/or minimizing the impact of SSOs
· Implementation of initial watershed projects consisting of sanitary sewer rehabilitation, removal of improper storm water connections, and system-wide upgrades and expansions including the construction of two new regional wastewater treatment plants
· Development and implementation of a plan to eliminate SSOs at specific pump stations
· Development of watershed plans for each of the four major watersheds in Northern Kentucky, which are required to include components for a Long Term Control Plan and Sanitary Sewer Overflow Plan
To engage local communities in development of the watershed plans, the District will establish Watershed Community Councils for each of the four watersheds. Each Watershed Community Council will provide input on the development of these watershed plans, which must meet the requirements set forth in the consent decree.
The consent decree requires SD1 to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $476,400 and perform $636,000 in supplemental environmental projects (SEPs). The SEPs are to include:
· Funding to extend sewer lines to areas with failing on-site systems and assistance with replacement of failing laterals on private property similar to a program in other areas of the state called PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment)
· Providing funding to assist the Northern Kentucky County Conservancies (Campbell, Boone and Kenton Counties) with projects advancing water quality goals and protecting area water quality
· Providing funding to the Banklick Watershed Council and Licking River Watershed Watch Project that will be used toward the monitoring and analysis of water quality of local streams
· Increasing public awareness and knowledge regarding water quality issues through the expansion of educational opportunities at the District’s Public Service Park
· Providing funding to Split Rock Wild Conservation Kentucky Inc. to support environmental efforts within the Woolper Creek watershed
This consent decree, and one filed last April for the Louisville area, effectively puts in process plans to address 68 percent of Kentucky’s CSOs and SSOs.
"CSOs, which can dump untreated sewage and industrial waste into Kentucky’s scenic rivers, have caused significant water quality damage to our most important natural resource," said LaJuana S. Wilcher, EPPC secretary. "Kentucky is attacking these discharges in a comprehensive, systematic fashion. Soon every city and town in the state with CSOs will have a plan to address these overflows."
The public will have 30 days to comment on the agreement after it is published in the Federal Register.
Sanitation District No. 1 is responsible for the collection and treatment of Northern Kentucky's wastewater, as well as regional storm water management. The District serves 33 communities in Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties of Northern Kentucky. The District's sanitary sewer system and storm water service area covers approximately 218 square miles, producing more than 90,000 sanitary and storm customer accounts. The District owns, operates and maintains over 1,270 miles of separate sanitary sewers, 230 miles of combined sanitary sewers, one major wastewater treatment plant (Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant), eight small treatment plants, 128 pump stations and 15 flood pump stations.