EPA to Initiate Rulemaking to Reduce

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is initiating a rulemaking to better protect the environment and public health from the harmful effects of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and basement backups. In many cities, SSOs and basement backups occur because of blockages, broken pipes and excessive water flowing into the pipes. SSOs present environmental and health problems because they discharge untreated wastewater that contains bacteria, viruses, suspended solids, toxics, trash and other pollutants into waterways. These overflows may also contribute to beach closures, shellfish bed closures, contamination of drinking water supplies and other environmental and health concerns.

Infrastructure issues were discussed at the Coming Together for Clean Water Conference held by EPA
Administrator Lisa P. Jackson on April 15, 2010. The agency plans to address these issues as part of its efforts to protect public health and revitalize local waterways.

EPA is considering two possible modifications to existing regulations: 1) establishing standard National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit conditions for publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) permits that specifically address sanitary sewer collection systems and SSOs; and 2) clarifying the regulatory framework for applying NPDES permit conditions to municipal satellite collection systems.

Municipal satellite collection systems are sanitary sewers owned or operated by a municipality that conveys wastewater to a POTW operated by a different municipality. As a part of this effort, the agency is also considering whether to address long-standing questions about peak wet weather flows at municipal wastewater treatment plants to allow for a holistic, integrated approach to reducing SSOs while at the same time addressing peak flows at POTWs.

To help the agency make decisions on this proposed rulemaking, EPA will hold public listening sessions and the public can submit written comments. EPA will accept written comments on the potential rule until 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

For more information visit: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=4


Kansas City to Spend $2.5 Billion in Sewer Upgrades

The City of Kansas City, Mo., has agreed to make extensive improvements to its sewer systems, at a cost estimated to exceed $2.5 billion over 25 years, to eliminate overflows of untreated raw sewage and to reduce pollution levels in urban stormwater, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced May 18.

A consent decree lodged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, in Kansas City, Mo., requires the city to implement an Overflow Control Plan, which is the result of more than four years of public input. The plan is designed to yield significant long-term benefits to public health and the environment, and provide a model for the incorporation of green infrastructure and technology toward solving overflow issues.
When completed, the sanitary sewer system will have adequate infrastructure to capture and convey combined stormwater and sewage to the city?s treatment plants. This will keep billions of gallons of untreated sewage from reaching surface waters.

?This is a landmark day in the history of Kansas City, Mo.,? said Karl Brooks, EPA Regional Administrator. ?This agreement charts a course for the largest infrastructure project in the city?s history, and what we believe to be one of the largest municipal green infrastructure projects undertaken anywhere in the nation.?
Under the agreement, Kansas City will pay a civil penalty of $600,000 to the United States, in addition to the estimated $2.5 billion it will spend to repair, modify and rebuild its sewer system. The plan is also structured to encourage the city to use natural or engineered ?green infrastructure,? such as green roofs, rain gardens and permeable pavement, to minimize stormwater burdens on the improved system.

As part of the agreement, Kansas 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, Kan. 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.
As part of the settlement, the city has agreed to install disinfection treatment systems at all of its wastewater treatment plants by 2013. Kansas City?s overflows result in the annual discharge of an estimated 7 billion gallons of raw sewage into local streams and rivers.


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