Amended Consent Decree

Sanitation District No. 1 entered into an Amended Consent Decree with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2019, extending the deadline for Northern Kentucky’s sewer overflow mitigation improvements to January 1, 2040.

The amended decree, which essentially is an agreement on how Northern Kentucky will comply with the federal Clean Water Act of 1972, has two main objectives: the total elimination of typical-year sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and the recapture of 85 percent of typical-year combined sewer overflows (CSOs) by the new deadline.

“This extension was important for two reasons,” said SD1 Executive Director Adam Chaney. “First, mitigating Northern Kentucky’s sewer overflows is the right thing to do, and SD1 is glad to have clear guidance from the federal government on realistic parameters to achieve the goals set forth in the amended consent decree.”

“Second, we can now spread the cost of making the necessary infrastructure improvements over a longer period of time, reducing the financial impact to our customers while ensuring progress on sanitary sewer overflow mitigation,” he added.

Northern Kentucky currently experiences over one billion gallons of CSOs and 115 million gallons of SSOs per year. 

While renegotiating with the EPA, SD1 also conducted a national competition to select an engineering firm to develop innovative, cost effective approaches to sewer overflow elimination. A strategy shift to the use of alternative wet-weather storage solutions is one of many cost-saving approaches that emerged from that competition.

Recent advancements in technology have lowered the cost of equalization (EQ) tanks, which can store water during wet-weather events and reduce the strain that heavy rains and snow melts place upon the region’s sewer system.

“During dry weather conditions, we don’t have overflows,” Chaney said. “By storing water during wet weather rain events and then slowly releasing that water back into our system of pipes, pump stations and treatment plants we can more efficiently and effectively reduce the volume of sanitary sewer overflows across the region.”

Although once projected at about $1.3 billion, Chaney said the new approaches of the updated watershed plan, along with enhancements to SD1’s asset maintenance plan, will save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars. 

“Mitigating sewer overflows in Northern Kentucky is critical, and so is investing in new infrastructure for our future,” Chaney said. “The extension of our consent decree deadline to 2040 gives us the flexibility to balance these and other community considerations.”

“Now we must work to engage all of Northern Kentucky in support of these important overflow cleanup efforts to protect public health, property and the environment, while continuing to support the economic vitality of our community,” he said.

Related Documents:
- Amended Consent Decree (2019) (PDF)
- Original Consent Decree (2007) (PDF)


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