Feds say Indianapolis' sewer fix plan needs changes
Federal officials have told city officials that Indianapolis' 20-year, billion-dollar plan to reduce the city's sewer overflows still allows too many overflows containing raw human waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the city's proposal to cut combined sewer overflow events from about 60 a year to 12 is still too many. The EPA also said the city can afford to spend more than twice what it had planned on the upgrade. Indianapolis Department of Public Works Director James Garrard said he expects to propose a new, long-term control plan that would allow two, four or six overflows per year. He wants it approved by next April. Older parts of Indianapolis, as in many American cities, have combined sewer systems in which both sewage and storm water are routed into the same sewer pipes. When as little as a quarter-inch of rain falls, it overloads the systems, sending overflows tainted with human waste and dangerous bacteria gushing from 132 outlets in the riverbanks – about 6 billion gallons of water each year. "It's disgusting to have raw sewage just floating in the river," Garrard said. "But we need to have a realistic plan to control it."