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Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas

(WASHINGTON D.C. - March 20, 2020) – Under a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice, the Unified Government of Wyandotte Co. and Kansas City, Kansas (UG) will address unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage and to reduce pollution levels in urban stormwater.

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Overview of Company

The UG is responsible for management of its sanitary sewer system, which includes both combined and separate sewer systems. The UG is also responsible for management of its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). Under NPDES permits, the UG operates five wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) and the MS4.

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The United States alleges the following violations against UG: 1) unauthorized discharge of sewage from the sanitary sewer system (both the combined sanitary sewers (CSS) and separate sanitary sewers (SSS); 2) dry weather overflows from the CSS; 3) failure to properly maintain and operate the sewer system in accordance with the standard condition in an NPDES permit; and, 4) violation of the MS4 NPDES permit.

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Injunctive Relief

The UG estimates that implementation of the Integrated Overflow Control Plan (IOCP) will cost over $600 million. The UG estimates that implementation of the Integrated Overflow Control Plan (IOCP) will cost over $600 million. The IOCP includes projects to address sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) and combined sewer overflows (CSO) as well as sewer system and MS4 infrastructure work and remedial measures. The settlement requires completion of the construction and full implementation of all remedial and control measures by 2044.

Implementation of the IOCP comes as a final phase of this settlement, following prior completion of other consent decree requirements for short-term construction projects and improvements to the UG’s Fats, Oil and Grease Control Program Plan (FOG), Information Management System, Storm Water Management Plan, Collection System Release Response Plan (CSRRP), Nine Minimum Controls Plan (NMCP), and Capacity, Management, Operations and Maintenance (CMOM) Program Plan.

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Pollutants Impacts

When the control measures required by the settlement are implemented, the UG will capture and treat a minimum of 505 million gallons of the current CSO discharge. Implementation of the IOCP will result in the following estimated annual pollutant reductions:

  • 347,856 pounds of total suspended solids;
  • 47,218 pounds of biochemical oxygen demand;
  • 113 pounds of total nitrogen; and
  • 16 pounds of total phosphorus.

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

The pollutant above-mentioned pollutant reductions which will substantially reduce microbial pathogens, suspended solids, and nutrients releases to the Kansas and Missouri Rivers.

  • 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.
  • Biochemical 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.
  • Nutrients - Excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in waters can produce harmful algal blooms. These blooms contribute to the creation of hypoxia or “dead zones” in water bodies where dissolved oxygen levels are so low that most aquatic life cannot survive.

The UG serves a high-minority and low-income population with the median household income for the UG’s service population falling below both the state and national average. The injunctive relief outlined in the Integrated Overflow Control Plan specifically requires heightened control in an area of environmental justice concern, and the resulting benefits of these wastewater control projects are concentrated in the eastern third of the city, where environmental justice concerns are the most serious.

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Civil Penalty

The UG will pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the United States.

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For more information, contact:

Erin Grisby
Water Enforcement Division
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW (Mail Code 2243A)
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-3701

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