U.S., Indianapolis Agree to $1.8 Billion Sewer Plan
To settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, the city of Indianapolis has agreed to spend $1.86 billion over the next 20 years on improvements to its sewage system. The settlement, announced today by the U.S. Justice Department, is the third largest in the history of the Clean Water Act.
“With today’s consent decree, the city of Indianapolis is taking an important step toward complying with the Clean Water Act,” said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are pleased that we have reached a resolution to these matters, and that city has agreed to make the necessary improvements and committed funds to ensure significant improvements to reduce untreated sewer discharges.”
The settlement is related to the city’s operation of its combined municipal wastewater and sewer system. Older parts of the system route both sewage and stormwater – when it overloads, the combined overflow is discharged into the White River and its tributaries. The overflows occur about 60 times a year, discharging some eight billion gallons of untreated sewage.
The Justice Department has alleged that these discharges violate discharge permits under the federal Clean Water Act.
Under the terms of the settlement, which must still be approved by federal court, Indianapolis will make the improvements over twenty years to reduce the overflows down to four or fewer per year.
The improvements are expected to ultimately reduce the volume of Indianapolis’ untreated combined sewer overflow discharges by 7.2 billion gallons in an average year.
The city will also pay penalties of $588,900 each to the United States and Indiana, and spend $2 million on a project to eliminate failing septic systems.
“Through this agreement, Indianapolis has shown a real commitment to get rid of its long-standing sewage problems,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA’s assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The EPA agreement will not only ensure compliance with the law, it will also benefit the citizens by significantly improving water quality in the White River and its tributaries, which are important natural resources and great assets to the city.”
Although EPA is not aware of any health problems from sewage overflow in Indianapolis, nationwide, sewer overflows can lead to outbreaks of disease from such substances as E.coli bacteria and cryptosporidium.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.