EPA order requires city to eliminate sewer overflows
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 21, 2013) — Lexington is starting the first of more than 80 sanitary sewer improvement projects the city is required by court order to build over the next 10 years.
“These projects represent the most significant investment in the environment in our history,” Mayor Jim Gray said. Benefits include improving the quality of life for our citizens, providing for future growth and protecting our water quality, he said.
The improvements will be costly. Estimates range as high as $600 million. But the city has hired a project manager, Vernon Azevedo, to control and reduce costs wherever possible, Gray said.
The federal Consent Decree, a court order involving Lexington, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, requires the city to make improvements to its sanitary sewer system by eliminating sanitary sewer overflows.
Overflows occur when the sanitary sewer line is blocked, or when stormwater enters the sewer line and overloads the sanitary sewer system. Over the years, overflows in Lexington have caused millions of gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage to be discharged directly into Fayette County creeks.
The solution to addressing overflows lies in what the city calls its Remedial Measures Plan for Lexington, the master plan for fixing the city’s sanitary sewers.
“We’ve made significant progress over the past four years in improving the sanitary sewer system,” said Charles Martin, director of the Division of Water Quality. “The South Elkhorn, North Elkhorn, Deep Springs, Dixie and Bluegrass Airport pump stations have been replaced. The Wolf Run pump station is being replaced, and a new pump station in the Man O’War-I-75 area is under construction and will replace four older pump stations.”
To prepare for the plans, the city inspected, mapped and repaired existing sanitary sewer lines, stormwater lines and manhole access points. Smoke testing and video cameras were used to ensure houses and commercial facilities were connected to the correct sewer.
“At times the projects will be inconvenient for residents and motorists, and we are going to do everything we can to work with people and to help them understand,” Azevedo said.
The Bob O Link Drive, East Lake and Century Hills sewer projects are the first three to get underway this fall. Public meetings were held earlier this year for residents living in those areas to inform them of the projects and potential impacts.
However, avoiding repairs to the sanitary sewers is not an option. “Failure to complete these projects on time will continue the legacy of untreated sewage polluting our creeks,” Azevedo said. “Financial penalties under the Consent Decree will also result from failing to complete these projects on time, as will any future sewer overflows.”
For more information on the RMPs visit www.lexingtonky.gov/remedialmeasures.