In response to today’s press conference by the United States Department of Justice and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District issues the following statement:
Since December 2008, MSD has been in mediation with the State of Missouri, the United States Federal Government, and the Missouri Coalition of the Environment over the lawsuit first filed against MSD in June 2007 by the State and Federal Governments and later joined by the Coalition. All parties have worked hard and showed great understanding to reach an agreement that continues to ensure the public’s health and safety, protects our St. Louis area waterways from unnecessary sewer overflows, and allows for robust investment in our region’s infrastructure and local economy.
As evidenced by MSD’s spending of $2.3 billion over the past two decades to eliminate 300-plus sewer overflows, today’s agreement also reflects the understanding that there has never been any question about the need for continued work to upgrade and modernize the nation’s 4th largest sewer system. Rather, the true question is how quickly this work is completed, which is the driver behind continued increases in monthly sewer bills. While $4.7 billion over 23 years is a very fair agreement when compared to the dozens of other cities across the nation that have been sued by the Federal Government, the fact remains that this is billions of dollars that will come from the pocketbook of St. Louis ratepayers – with little to no state or federal assistance – and will be unavailable for other critical needs in our community.
Beyond the regulatory issues, the St. Louis sewer system – like much of the infrastructure in our region – is very old and in need of investment and upgrades. As MSD works to implement the consent decree, we will seek to highlight the need for renewed investment in all types of infrastructure, so that future generations may reap the same, if not greater, benefits that current and past generations have enjoyed.
Major federal consent decree components:
1. The Consent Decree will have an implementation schedule of 23 years from the date of approval by the State ofMissouriof the CSO Long Term Control Plan, which addresses sewer overflows and other issues in the combined sanitary sewer system. For the work in the sanitary and combined collection system and in the wastewater treatment plants, the District estimates its cost of complying with the Consent Decree at $4.7 billion in 2011 dollars.
2. Early Elimination Projects – Requires the completion of sanitary sewer projects that will allow for the elimination of 50 specific constructed Sanitary Sewer Overflow (“SSO”) Outfalls within the sanitary sewer system by December 31, 2012.
3. SSO Master Plan – Requires the submission of an SSO Master Plan that includes an extensive SSES (Sewer System Evaluation Survey), Hydraulic Modeling, and Capacity Analysis of the Sanitary Sewer System. The Master Plan will identify Remedial Measures and Elimination Projects aimed at removing all constructed SSO Outfalls, known SSOs, WWTP bypassing within the Sanitary Sewer System, and reducing reoccurring Building Backups. MSD must submit this plan no later than December 31, 2013.
4. Remedial Measures – Requires the completion of the Remedial Measures and Elimination projects identified in the SSO Master Plan in accordance with the schedule provided therein, which includes the removal of 85% of the constructed SSO Outfalls, and the goals of eliminating all other known SSOs by no later than December 31, 2023, and all remaining constructed SSO Outfalls by December 31, 2033.
5. CMOM Program – Requires the District continue its development and implementation of a CMOM Program (Capacity, Management, Operations, and Maintenance) that includes detailed performance goals for the prioritization, cleaning, inspection, and rehabilitation of the entire sewer system. Program also includes continued implementation of MSD FOG (Fat’s Oils, and Grease) Program, the development and implementation of Private Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Program, Building Backup Response Plan, and a Non-Capacity Related SSO Response Plan. The CMOM Program is aimed at preventing overflows and building backups from the system.
6. Cityshed Mitigation Program – Requires the commitment of a regular annual program to mitigate the effects of wet weather surcharging and overland flooding of the combined sewer system (Citysheds), with an anticipated expenditure of $230 Million over the life of the consent decree.
7. Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) – Requires the construction and implementation of CSO Control Measures in accordance with the requirements and schedule set forth in the approved CSO LTCP and consent decree. On June 1, 2011, the State ofMissouri approved Chapter 11 “Selected Plan”, Chapter 12 “Green Infrastructure Program”, and Appendix Q “MSD’s Green Infrastructure Program” of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District’s Combined Sewer Overflow Long-Term Control Plan Update Report, dated February 2011. The projects in the LTCP will be completed 23 years after the LTCP approval by the State of Missouri.
8. CSO Post Construction Monitoring Program – Upon completion of CSO Control Measures, requires the implementation of a Post Construction Monitoring Program to validate performance of CSO Control Measures as set forth in the approved CSO LTCP and CD.
9. CSO Green Infrastructure Program – As part of the approved CSO LTCP, this program includes the commitment of $100 Million to implement a Green Infrastructure Program that will include a five-year pilot program, which will be aimed at using green infrastructure to reduce combined sewer overflow volumes in the combined sewer areas in both St. Louis City and St. Louis County and impact the CSO overflows into the Mississippi River.
10. Consent Decree Reporting – Requires significant and continuous detailed reporting and transparency on all activities identified above, as well as reporting on progress in achieving the overall goals of the consent decree in eliminating and reducing sewer system overflows within the District. The annual reports will be made available on the MSD website.
11. Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) – To offset civil penalties, the District will spend $1.6 million dollars for a SEP program in which the District will implement a Sewer Connection & Septic Tank Closure Program for low income residents. This program will include 1) the installation of a sewer service line (i.e. lateral) and public sewer line if needed to the homes of participating property owners, removal as needed of their septic tank from operation and 2) the replacement, rehabilitation, or repair as necessary of private lateral lines. MSD must complete the SEP within five years of the effective date of the consent decree.
12. Civil penalty – Within 30 days of the effective date of the consent decree, the District will be liable to pay the United States$1,200,000.00 as a civil penalty in this action. This penalty is consistent with public entities of similar size to the District that have begun the process of addressing POTW overflow issues but have not yet completed the program.
13. Stipulated Penalties – The District will be subject to liability to the United States for stipulated penalties if the District fails to meet certain specified requirements outlined in the consent decree.
14. Coalition for the Environment – In settlement of the Coalition’s claim for costs of litigation, including attorneys’ fees, the District will be required to pay $116,050.00 to be used to fund projects at the River des Peres Coalition as determined by joint agreement between MSD and the River des Peres Coalition and to provide engineering and science support at the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic. The consent decree also will require the District to provide a copy of various documents and reports to the Coalition.
To view a copy of the consent decree, click here.