Large cranes and construction sites are signs of progress for Louisville MSD as it significantly reduces sewer overflows into local waterways. On July 23, the MSD Board approved the utility’s 2018-19 fiscal year budget that includes more than $128 million for projects in the federal Consent Decree.
Twelve years ago, MSD began approximately $900 million effort to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows and reduce combined sewer overflows by 98 percent in a typical rainfall year. Because much of Louisville’s sewer system was installed nearly 100 years ago, rainwater can mix with wastewater and overwhelm the pipes. Rain can cause a combination of wastewater and stormwater to overflow into the Ohio River and our local streams. This work to significantly reduce overflows — MSD consent decree work — will be complete at the end of 2024.
In 2018-2019, MSD will focus on three basin projects and the Waterway Protection Tunnel to prevent combined sewer overflows:
• Clifton Heights Basin is scheduled to be complete by the end of this year.
• Portland Basin is scheduled for completion by the end of 2019.
• Shawnee Park Basin is on schedule for completion in Summer 2019.
• MSD began work on the Waterway Protection Tunnel in January 2018. This fall, a tunnel boring machine will arrive to start carving a 20-foot diameter tunnel some 18 stories underground. The tunnel is unique in that it will capture 25 combined sewer overflow points that can discharge 439 million gallons of wastewater and rainwater into Beargrass Creek and the Ohio River. The tunnel must be operational by the end of 2020 to meet the federal consent decree deadline.
West Main Street Repair
Right now, MSD has another large focus — repairing a 7-foot diameter pipe that carries 40 percent of the city’s daily wastewater flow to MSD’s Morris Forman Water Quality Treatment Center. A section of the 60-year-old pipe underneath West Main Street between Fourth and Seventh streets is at risk of caving in. MSD began the repair project for this section of pipe in June. The repair work will conclude in November 2018.
MSD Board Approves Rate Resolution
MSD’s Board approved a 6.9 percent increase to monthly residential wastewater, drainage and EPA Surcharge Fees. The average residential bill will increase by $3.87 on August 1, 2018. This increase helps cover daily operating costs for wastewater, drainage, flood protection and the Consent Decree projects. MSD continues to offer a 30-percent discount on the surcharge and wastewater charges to qualified senior citizens.
Long-term Community Needs
Despite the improvements underway, Louisville still has pressing needs for public health and safety. In 2017, MSD completed an extensive analysis of the wastewater, stormwater and flood protection systems that protect the community and identified the critical needs in these areas in a 20-year Critical Repair & Reinvestment Plan.
However, the solutions come with a significant price tag — $4.3 billion over the next 20 years. With the federal requirements for the Consent Decree projects, MSD is unable to start the critical repair work to our vital wastewater, stormwater and flood protection systems without additional funds. Right now, MSD has placed improvement projects for these essential systems including drainage and odor reduction on hold until it can secure additional funds, or until the Consent Decree work is complete in 2024.