After years of negotiations, MSD has a consent decree. This is a settlement of a lawsuit regarding overflows that was filed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Missouri in 2007. The Missouri Coalition for the Environment later joined the suit as an intervener. The settlement was entered and went into effect on April 27, 2012.
The consent decree requires MSD to spend a minimum $4.7 billion in 2010 dollars over the duration of the decree to address the issue of overflows and other sewer system improvements. To view a copy of the consent decree, click here.
Now what? Throughout MSD’s service area, there are hundreds of points where a combination of rainwater and wastewater discharges into local waterways from the sewer system during moderate to heavy rainstorms. These sewer overflow points act as relief valves when too much rainwater enters the sewer system, and without them, our community could experience thousands of basement backups and/or extensive street flooding.
Though most overflows predate MSD’s creation in 1954, under the consent decree MSD has a duty to address them and that makes it our responsibility. Efforts to address the problem must continue. From 1992 to 2011, MSD spent approximately $2.5 billion to remove over 350 overflows. To address the fewer than 400 overflows that remain, we must increase our collection and treatment capabilities.
In order to do this work, rate increases will be necessary. Since 2003, MSD has utilized a combination of rate increases and bond issuances to finance its work addressing overflows and rehabilitating the wastewater collection and treatment system. In July 2003, the average monthly single family sewer bill was $13.97. Today, that same bill is $28.73. The issuance of $775 million in bonds during that time period helped minimize rate increases.
MSD plans to present a ballot initiative to area voters that authorizes the issuance of $945 million in bonds to help finance the next phase of work to address sewer overflows. This vote is scheduled for June 5, 2012.
If voters approve the issuance of bonds, then the average monthly single family sewer bill gradually increases to $43.67 by July 1, 2015.
If voters do not approve the issuance of bonds, then the average monthly single family sewer bill increases to $65.15 by July 1, 2015. It should be noted that this approach requires rate increases that are heavily front loaded, with an increase of $35.42 scheduled for July 1, 2012.