Settlement ensures improvements to sewer and stormwater systems

May 2013, Vol. 68 No. 5

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS, has agreed to a settlement to address unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage and to reduce pollution levels in urban stormwater.

The settlement, lodged March 21, in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., requires the Unified Government to implement improved operation and maintenance programs for its sewer system, perform initial work to address sewer overflows, and implement an improved Storm Water Management Plan. The Unified Government will also develop a proposed overflow control plan for the sewer system by September 2016 for approval by EPA. Unified Government’s implementation of that plan, once approved, will be embodied in a subsequent judicial settlement.

The Unified Government’s sewer system collects and receives domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater from approximately 110,000 area residents. The system includes five wastewater treatment plants and more than 800 miles of sewer lines. About one-third of the system is served by combined sewers, which carry both stormwater and wastewater, and the remainder by separated sewers.

Since 2004, the Unified Government has reported more than 450 illegal sewer overflows from its sewer system. These overflows resulted in the discharge of raw sewage into the Missouri and Kansas rivers and their tributaries. The overflows are in violation of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and the terms of the city’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for operation of its sewer system.

A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department website at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.