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Muscatine, Iowa, has agreed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to spend what could amount to $30 million or more to repair its sewer system.
The administrative agreement sets a schedule for the city to complete the separation of its combined sewers, which carry storm water and sanitary sewage. The systems will often overflow when it rains, allowing untreated sewage to flow into nearby creeks, streams and lakes.
Combined sewer systems are remnants of the country's early infrastructure and so are typically found in older communities. Combined sewer systems serve 772 communities, including several in Iowa, and about 40 million people.
EPA Region 7 Administrator John B. Askew said, "This agreement will produce significant reductions in health risks to the public while making important improvements to the environment. I commend Muscatine and its residents for making this investment in their city."
The agreement calls for Muscatine to eliminate all combined sewer overflows by Dec. 31, 2024. EPA estimates that the work will eliminate the annual discharge of more than 100 million gallons of untreated sewage to the Mississippi River and local streams.