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Kansas City, Missouri Clean Water Act Settlement

(Kansas City, Kan., - May 18, 2010) The City of Kansas City, Mo., has agreed to make extensive improvements to its sewer systems, at a cost estimated to exceed $2.5 billion over 25 years, to eliminate unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage and to reduce pollution levels in urban stormwater, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

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Overview of Facility

Kansas City, Missouri's publicly owned treatment works (POTW) includes seven wastewater treatment plants and associated collection systems. The POTW collects and receives domestic, commercial, and industrial wastewater from residential household customers within the City, as well as 27 neighboring satellite communities.

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EPA took enforcement action against the City for Clean Water Act (CWA) violations involving discharges of untreated sewage from the City's sewage collection system, including combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), to waters of the United States.

Since 2002, the City has experienced approximately 1,300 illegal overflows, including CSOs, SSOs, and private property backups, from its POTW, resulting in violations of the City's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and Sections 301 and 402 of the CWA. These overflows have caused an annual discharge of approximately 6.5 billion gallons of untreated sewage into waters of the United States.

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Injunctive Relief

The City will implement overflow remedial measures intended to eliminate a substantial percentage of CSOs and SSOs from the City's sewer systems. The City estimates that the injunctive relief will cost $2.5 billion. The consent decree requires completion of the construction and full implementation of all remedial and control measures no later than December 31, 2035.

  • Combined Sewer System: The City will implement CSO control measures that, when combined with existing controls, will eliminate or capture for treatment approximately 88 percent of the typical wet weather flows in the City's combined sewer system, including up to 96 percent capture in many neighborhood streams. The settlement includes specific requirements for sewer separation projects, construction of a high rate treatment facility, installation of high rate treatment at several existing wastewater treatment plants, development of diversion structures to reroute wet weather flows, construction of tunnels and storage tanks to provide additional capacity for wet weather flows, improvements to gate control systems, and small sewer rehabilitation projects.
  • Separate Sewer System: To substantially eliminate SSOs, the City will engage in 30 percent to 45 percent targeted infiltration and inflow reductions, expand treatment capacity at its wastewater treatment plants, construct tunnels and storage tanks to provide additional support for wet weather flows, improve its pump stations, and construct relief sewers where insufficient hydraulic capacity currently exists.
  • Green Infrastructure: The consent decree requires Kansas City to use green infrastructure, such as rain gardens, permeable pavement, and green roofs, in lieu of and in addition to structural controls, in its implementation of overflow control measures. The City will initiate a pilot project to implement green infrastructure technologies to control wet weather flows throughout a 100-acre basin served by the City's POTW. The City will use the results of the pilot project to develop a plan for implementing green infrastructure projects across at least a 744-acre basin served by the City's POTW. The City may then develop and submit to EPA for approval a green infrastructure project proposal for its entire combined sewer system to achieve its overflow reductions.
  • Installation of Disinfection Treatment at Wastewater Treatment Plants: The City will install disinfection treatment at its wastewater treatment plants between 2011 and 2013.

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Pollutant Reductions

Through implementation of the consent decree, the City will eliminate or treat at least 5.4 billion gallons of the 6.4 billion gallons currently discharged as a result of CSOs from the City's wastewater treatment plants, as well as eliminate the entire 100 million gallons of monitored SSOs discharged from the City's sewer system.

The settlement also requires disinfection treatment of approximately 275 million gallons per day at its wastewater treatment plants. EPA estimates that the City will reduce 39 million pounds of total suspended solids and 10 million pounds of biological oxygen demand annually.

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Health and Environmental Effects

The above mentioned reductions will substantially reduce releases of the following pollutants:

  • Microbial pathogens
  • Total Suspended Solids (TSS) - TSS indicates the measure of suspended solids in wastewater, effluent or water bodies. High levels of TSS in a water body can diminish the amount of light that penetrates the water column and reduce photosynthesis and the production of oxygen.
  • Toxics
  • Nutrients
  • Biological oxygen demand (BOD) - BOD is an indirect measure of the biologically degradable material present in organic wastes. High BOD means there is an abundance of biologically degradable material that will consume oxygen from the water during the degradation process. It may take away oxygen that is needed for aquatic organisms to survive.

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Supplemental Environmental Projects

The City will perform a supplemental environmental project (SEP), at a cost of at least $1.6 million, within five years of the settlement effective date, to implement a sewer connection and septic tank closure program for income eligible property owners. The City anticipates that the SEP will eliminate septic tanks in approximately 533 households.

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Civil Penalty

The settlement agreement requires payment of $600,000 to the U.S. Treasury within 30 days of the effective date of the settlement.

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State Partners

The State of Missouri is not a party to the Consent Decree. The City and State plan to enter into a separate settlement agreement that resolves a number of the City's recent SSO violations.

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For more information, contact:

Amanda J. Helwig
Office of Civil Enforcement
Water Enforcement Division
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-3713

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