FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Proposed plan would revise and extend agreement with Missouri Department of Natural Resources through 2035.
City Council at its March 22 meeting heard the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the City’s Department of Environmental Services to propose changes to its 2012 Amended Consent Judgement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to continue addressing sanitary sewer overflows and improving water quality in our waterways while focusing investment on the most cost-effective solutions for Springfield.
If approved, the department will work with MDNR to file a second amended consent judgment that establishes a new plan and timeline for investment in improving Springfield’s aging sewer system.
The new plan, called the Supplemental Overflow Control Plan (SOCP), will provide regulatory certainty for our City as we continue to implement state and federally mandated upgrades, rehabilitation, and enhancement of the City’s wastewater collection and treatment system to minimize capacity-related sewer overflows and treatment plant bypasses and their negative impact on water quality. The proposal uses Integrated Planning to establish the remaining level of investment at $300 million and extend the compliance schedule with a re-evaluation date of 2035. The new $300 million investment commitment replaces the remaining $125 million of investment required by the existing Overflow Control Plan (OCP) and adds 10 years to the compliance schedule which will lower the financial impact on sewer ratepayers.
“The Integrated Plan has allowed us to invest in our critical wastewater infrastructure while focusing on activities that truly have an impact on water quality,” explains Environmental Services Director Errin Kemper. “The supplemental overflow control plan is a testament to our staff who have worked tirelessly to find more effective ways to meet our regulatory obligations in the best interests of our rate payers. These investments will allow the City to make needed improvements to the sewer system while improving the quality of life for our citizens.”
Several successful projects in Springfield’s current OCP will continue under the SOCP including:
- The Private Sewer Repair Program
- Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) compliance
- Sewer collection system renewal projects to rehabilitate aging infrastructure
- Sewer collection system optimization, including automation and monitoring to improve system performance
- Targeted projects to reduce sewer overflows in critical places such as parks and neighborhoods
- Wastewater treatment plant renewal projects
Additional categories proposed in the supplemental plan include investments in “green infrastructure” projects that have been found to be a cost effective way to improve water quality while beautifying our community, as well as construction of a new operations facility to accommodate increased staffing and equipment required under the plan.
Based on the current financial projections for the City’s Sewer Enterprise Fund, the extended compliance timeline allows the investments outlined in the proposed SOCP to be supported by the revenue generated by the currently ratified sewer rate structure, which should allow future sewer rate increases to be much less than previously contemplated under the OCP.
“This modification will give the City a great deal of regulatory certainty while providing a predictable sewer rate structure for the next 15 years.” said Kemper. “Our Integrated Plan helps ensure that we are investing in projects and programs that make sense for our community while achieving the goals of the Clean Water Act.”
Springfield is not alone in investing large sums of money toward its aging sewer system. Cities across Missouri, and the nation, are dealing with state and federal mandates to eliminate sewer overflows and improve water quality.
In 1995, the City of Springfield entered into a cooperative consent judgment with MDNR in compliance with the federal 1972 Clean Water Act to invest in the improvement of infrastructure, maintenance, and capacity of Springfield’s sanitary sewer collection and treatment facilities. The City met or exceeded the requirements of the 1995 consent judgment by 2008.
The City and MDNR negotiated an amended consent judgment in 2012, which consisted of the $50M Early Action Plan which was completed in 2018, and the long-term Overflow Control Plan (OCP), which was approved by City Council in May of 2015.
The 2015 OCP committed to investing $200 million over 10 years. Within this program are two phases: 1) the Foundation Projects Phase (2015-2020) which included $75 million dedicated toward pipe renewal, capacity upgrades, system monitoring, and treatment plant renewal programs as well as staff and equipment resources; and 2) the Advanced Action Plan phase (2021-2025) which includes $125 million dedicated to a similar list of projects.
Since the approval of the OCP, the City has completed the Foundation Projects Phase and has been gathering data, analyzing results of completed projects and planning for future improvement projects.
The 2015 OCP included a requirement for reevaluation and submittal of an updated plan by 2025. Through Integrated Planning, however, the City determined an earlier reevaluation would ensure the City’s sewer investments would be on projects/activities that make sense for the sewer system and community and has proposed the Supplemental Overflow Control Plan which will extend the timeframe to 2035. The additional timeline allows the city to remain in compliance with federal law while establishing predictable sewer rates for the next 15 years.
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For more information, contact Communication Coordinator Kristen Milam at 573-819-3713 or [email protected].