SD1 and EPA Agree to Extension of Clean Water Act Consent Decree

02/19/2019 -

FORT WRIGHT, Ky. – The Sanitation District No. 1 Board of Directors approved today an Amended Consent Decree with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, extending the deadline for Northern Kentucky’s sewer overflow mitigation improvements to January 1, 2040.

In 2005, in order to comply with federal law under the Clean Water Act of 1972, SD1 entered into a legal agreement called a consent decree with the EPA and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. The goal of the original consent decree was to mitigate combined system overflows (CSOs) and sanitary system overflows (SSOs) by the year 2025.

Northern Kentucky currently experiences over one billion gallons of CSOs and 115 million gallons of SSOs per year and the amended consent decree will provide  SD1 about 15 additional years to make infrastructure improvements aimed at remediating these overflows under the Clean Water Act.

“Affordability has been a driving factor in our negotiations with the regulators,” said SD1 Executive Director Adam Chaney. “The extension will allow us to spread infrastructure capital costs over a longer period, reducing the financial impact to our customers while ensuring progress on overflow mitigation.”

The cost to clean up Northern Kentucky’s sewer overflows has been estimated at $1.3 billion, but the extension approved by SD1’s board today gives the District the flexibility to take advantage of emerging technologies and innovative approaches to lower that cost.

The District is currently updating its long-term infrastructure plan to incorporate these new strategies. “The key is to continue to innovate and find efficiencies in our operating and capital plans,” Chaney said.

He said the extension also provides SD1 an opportunity to think about the consent decree in a new way. “This is really a partnership with the EPA and the state of Kentucky,” he said. “It gives us clear objectives and the flexibility we need to meet those objectives.”

Chaney said that while meeting these goals will not be easy, SD1 can now build a plan that is focused on accomplishing them in the most economical way possible. The extension of the consent decree is only part of that, he said. Through the adoption of a continuous improvement business model, the District has been reducing its operating costs and is currently exploring a rate restructure to address consumption decline and more closely align fees with SD1’s cost of providing service. 

While the amended consent decree will not become final until it is approved by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky – a process that could take several months – Chaney said SD1 is optimistic that process will go smoothly.

“The 2040 extension is a big step forward for our region,” he said. “Now we must work to engage all of Northern Kentucky in support of these important cleanup efforts to protect public health, property and the environment, while continuing to support the economic vitality of our community.”

About SD1

SD1 is responsible for the collection and treatment of northern Kentucky’s wastewater and also serves as the regional storm water management agency. SD1 is the second largest public sewer utility in Kentucky, serving more than 290,000 residents throughout Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties. SD1 maintains approximately 1,600 miles of sanitary-sewer system pipeline, 135 wastewater pumping stations, 15 flood pump stations, six package treatment plants, three major wastewater treatment plants, 416 miles of storm-sewer system and 31,106 storm-sewer structures.

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