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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Long-Term Overflow Control Plan, (a plan required by state and federal environmental regulators to reduce sewer system overflows) will be submitted in December. It will recommend investments in the local sewer system totaling $200 million over 10 years. These investments are designed to reduce sanitary sewer overflows, bypasses from the treatment plants, and to improve water quality in our streams.
Ongoing sewer investments are needed to reduce sewer system overflows which occur when the sewer system is overloaded by heavy rains. Sanitary Sewer Overflows are prohibited under the Clean Water Act of 1972. Although they still occur in most cities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) -- the federal and state agencies that enforce the regulations -- have been working with cities to improve compliance with the Clean Water Act. The City of Springfield has been working on this issue proactively for many years and meets all current federal and state environmental regulations.
Over the last 20 years, the City of Springfield has committed several hundred million dollars to improving our sewer system and water quality. “Though work remains to be done, we are proud of our progress. We are implementing plans that continue to invest in our sewer system, enhance water quality and comply with all regulatory requirements in a way that is cost-effective for Springfield ratepayers,” said Steve Meyer, Director of Environmental Services.
Management of sewer overflows have been guided by a series of negotiated agreements with environmental regulators that outline activities to be completed within a defined time period. The City’s current plan, called the Early Action Program, is underway and expected to be completed on schedule in 2018. This proposed Long-Term Overflow Control Plan will guide improvements/investments through 2025.
When the Early Action Program was adopted, the City promised to invest $50 million over 7 years in our sewer system. The City is well on its way to fulfilling this promise. To date the City has invested $35.7 million on the Early Action Program.
Accomplishments of the Early Action Program, which began in 2011, include:
In addition to investments made to the public sewer system and treatment plants, the Early Action Program included a Pilot Private Sewer Repair project to test the best methods for preventing rainwater from entering the sanitary sewer on private property.
Much of the rainwater that enters the sanitary sewer system comes from sources on private property such as downspouts, sump pumps and uncapped sewer cleanouts. By removing these sources, the Pilot Private Sewer Repair Program substantially reduced the amount of rainwater entering the sanitary sewer in these locations.
“Removing rainwater is a much more cost effective way to reduce sewer overflows than increasing the size of the sewer pipes,” said Meyer.
Springfield received a National Environmental Achievement Award for the program in 2013 and will expand it to other neighborhoods in the future.
The Long-Term Overflow Control Plan continues the City’s focus on investing in aging infrastructure and also includes projects to eliminate sewer overflows at specific locations. Under the Plan, more public sewer pipes will be rehabilitated, the private sewer repair program will be expanded and the City will continue to invest in its treatment plants to add capacity and improve energy efficiency of treatment operations.
“The Long Term Overflow Control projects are needed to address sewer issues in targeted locations, but our plan still emphasizes improvements that benefit the entire system. We feel this is very important. Other communities have been required to devote more of their improvement effort and financial resources to sanitary sewer overflow removal. Springfield is suggesting a different approach that we feel is cost-effective for our ratepayers and is hopeful that regulators will approve it,” Meyer said.
In addition, the City is working with both Greene County and City Utilities on the nation’s first Citizen-Focused approach to Integrated Planning that will help our region meet its environmental obligations in a manner that is affordable to our citizens. This Long-Term Overflow Control Plan is consistent with our Integrated Planning principals because it focuses our investments on cost-effective solutions while giving us an opportunity to improve the plan as we learn more about our environmental priorities.
City Manager Greg Burris praises MDNR and the EPA for working with the City of Springfield on this “first-of-a-kind approach” to develop a more integrated plan. “Our goal is to find a more affordable way to continue our environmental stewardship,” he said. “We are pleased to be continuing our work with MDNR and EPA”.
Public outreach to educate residents about the Long-Term Overflow Control Plan will take place this fall. The City plans to contact community groups in the coming weeks to offer presentations. Anyone interested in a presentation should contact the Department of Environmental Services, Clean Water Services Division at (417) 864-1923.
For more information, please contact Steve Meyer, Director of Environmental Services, at 417-864-2047.