In this week’s news briefs, the EPA is receiving feedback about a new rule that would affect how utilities provide public notification about CSO discharges into the Great Lakes, and a Louisiana city is preparing to make a final push to fix infrastructure still affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The EPA has released a proposed rule that would affect 182 Great Lakes communities and how they provide public notification about CSO discharges to the Great Lakes. The terms of the rule would be applied as conditions to be met for NPDES permits.
The rule comes from the passing of the Consolidations Act of 2016, which occurred in December 2015 and required the EPA to work with Great Lakes states to establish CSO discharge public notification requirements. The rule is currently in a 60-day review period in which people can submit feedback.
Source: press release
Kansas Utility’s Pilot Program Defrays Sewer Line Repair Costs for Customers
Kansas’ Johnson County Wastewater is testing a new program that provides up to $5,000 for customers facing costly street repair bills resulting from service line work.
According to a report in the Kansas City Star, the utility has a special fund of $500,000 set up from operating reserves for the pilot program, which went into effect in June. So far $5,300 has been paid out to two property owners and paperwork is being finalized for two others. Susan Pekarek, general manager of Johnson County Wastewater, says word is still getting out about the program’s availability. It will last for a year or until the special fund runs out. The program is intended to help with the street repair costs many homeowners don’t realize they’ll be billed for when their sewer line collapses.
“Most people don’t even think about their sewer lines and it can be very costly,” says Pekarek.
Source: Kansas City Star
Great Lakes Compact Council May Reconsider Allowing Wisconsin City to Tap into Lake Michigan
The city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, is looking to move ahead with plans to pipe in drinking water from Lake Michigan, but a group has asked the Great Lakes Compact Council for a rehearing on the matter.
Waukesha was granted approval last June and would be the first community outside the Great Lakes Basin allowed to access Lake Michigan per the terms of the Great Lakes Compact. But the decision has been controversial and the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative, a group made up of U.S. and Canadian mayors, wants a rehearing.
David Ullrich, executive director of the initiative, told Wisconsin Public Radio that the concerns center around the substance of the Great Lakes Compact Council’s decision, as well as the procedures and standards applied in making that decision.
“We believe that a mistake was made … (and) to allow that to stand would be harmful to the compact in the long term,” says Ullrich.
A decision about rehearing the case is expected by spring.
Source: Wisconsin Public Radio
Louisiana City Readies to Complete Post-Katrina Repairs
The city of Slidell, Louisiana, is gearing up for some substantial infrastructure upgrades in 2017.
In a report by the Times-Picayune, Mayor Freddy Drennan says his top priority for the year is to get closer to finishing the final repairs on water and sewer lines still damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Last year, the city was able to secure $60 million from FEMA to help with the effort, likely the last major grant issued in the state for Katrina damages, FEMA says.
“Since Katrina, the city has spent $1 million to $1.5 million per year on repairs out of our capital budget,” says Drennan. “When Katrina came in, it ran all of the water into the city. Our streets were not designed to hold the weight of that water.”
When heavy equipment went out to aid in cleanup efforts, it exacerbated the problems with the already compromised infrastructure, he adds.
Repairs have been ongoing, but now Drennan says he wants to focus on the last chunk of projects that will get the city’s infrastructure back to pre-Katrina conditions, as well as remove some of that burden from local ratepayers. One $5.4 million project is already underway and the remaining projects are in the design phase with the first phase of work set for the spring. Work covers nearly 60 percent of the city in seven different drainage basins.