Progress Report: City Council Gets Sewer Plan Update

By Jeff Neumeyer

September 18, 2012 Updated Sep 18, 2012 at 5:11 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Fort Wayne city council members on Tuesday received what you might call the "dirty details" on how the long-term effort is going to clean up pollution being introduced into the Maumee River.

The federal government is pressing communities across the country to reduce the amount of raw sewage that flows into their waterways.

Fort Wayne is making progress in that area, but it's taking a chunk of your hard earned cash to get it done.

The old way of doing sewers involved installing one set of pipes to channel storm water run-off and sewage flow.

But a combined sewer system, during heavy rain events, causes raw sewage to go right into nearby rivers.

The Environmental Protection Agency mandated that Fort Wayne officials modernize their sewers, and said the community is responsible for picking up the tab.

It’s a giant undertaking that is estimated to cost $240-million.

Rate hikes of 85 percent over the first five years are in place to help pay the bill.

So far, the improvements are allowing the city to treat an additional one-billion gallons of water before it is released into the Maumee River.

The upgrades are also cutting down on nasty sewer backups.

" We've been investing in our sewers significantly, as a result of that, we've seen a tremendous drop-off in the numbers of basement backups,” said Kumar Menon, the director of City Utilities.

“ The last 3 rain events that we've had, I don't think we got any complaints of basement backups."

The presentation to Council required no action by the fiscal body.

City Utilities officials have pledged to provide periodic updates on the progress of the sewer work.

City leaders say more rate hikes will likely be coming in future years regarding the sewer enhancements, but they can't say what those increases will be.




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