Phased approach will address combined sewer overflow problems
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 has reached a legal agreement with the city of Fort Madison, Iowa, to address the city's combined sewer overflow problems.
The administrative agreement sets a schedule for the city of Fort Madison to implement its proposed plan to addressed combined sewer overflows under a phased approach. The first phase calls for a pilot treatment system, including disinfection, to be installed at one of its eight combined sewer outfalls by late January 2010. If the pilot system proves successful, the second phase of the plan would involve installation of the same system at the remaining seven outfalls over a period of four years, at a projected cost of $4.5 million.
The agreement calls for the city to monitor results of the pilot system for a year. After a year of monitoring, the city must submit a report to EPA and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for review. If the pilot project is not successful, the city would then be required to find an alternate method of either mitigating or eliminating its combined sewer overflows. The city would have until March 2027 to implement the alternative method. The alternative method could involve the separation of Fort Madison's combined sewers, which carry storm water and sanitary sewage, at an estimated cost of up to $18 million.
Combined sewer systems often overflow after heavy rains or snows, allowing untreated sewage to flow into creeks, streams and lakes. Combined sewers are remnants of the country's early infrastructure and are typically found in older communities. Combined sewer systems serve more than 700 U.S. communities, including several in Iowa.
"This agreement should produce significant reductions in health risks to the public while making important improvements to the environment," said Acting Regional Administrator William Rice. "I commend the city of Fort Madison and its residents for making this investment in their city."