FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
City Council received a refresher course Tuesday on a long-term plan they approved in November 2014 for Springfield to reduce sewer system overflows and protect water quality. Implementation of this plan will require moderate sewer rate increases over the next few years – but not nearly the rate increases that will occur in other cities.
State and federal regulators have required cities across the country to create long-term sewer overflow control plans to meet requirements of the 1972 federal Clean Water Act. They have entered into consent decrees with cities to determine what is needed to meet outlined standards and set required levels of community investments.
Springfield’s Overflow Control Plan (OCP) outlines the consent decree’s required $200 million in investments over the next 10 years to make much-needed improvements in the City’s aging sewer system. Springfield’s plan was approved by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) in May of 2015 and is based upon Springfield’s environmental priorities as established in a first-of-its-kind Integrated Plan for the Environment.
“We believe that if it weren’t for our unique integrated planning approach, our plan would be considerably more expensive - up to $600 million dollars more than we are required to spend now,” said City Manager Greg Burris. “We are pleased that MDNR and EPA have been working alongside us on a plan that focuses investments on our highest priorities that provide the most benefit for our community.”
Springfield is not alone in spending large sums of money on reducing overflows. Cities across the nation are facing similar state or federal consent judgments to address sewer overflows during wet weather.
Consent decrees in Kansas City and St. Louis were $4.5 billion and $4.7 billion respectively. This will result in significant higher sewer rates in these other communities.
The plan will have three phases and at year nine, the City will re-evaluate and adapt the OCP according to findings and results achieved during the OCP implementation.
Springfield has invested heavily in upgrades to the sanitary sewer collection and treatment system over the years to serve the citizens of Springfield and to protect the water quality of the region.
Work, however, remains. State and federal enforcement of the Clean Water Act is becoming more stringent as the city’s wastewater infrastructure continues to age and require increasingly expensive maintenance.
City officials believe it’s important investment.
“We recognize there is a direct link between our region’s water quality and our economic vitality,” Burris said.
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The Integrated Plan for the Environment is a joint project of the City, Greene County and City Utilities. Springfield is one of the first communities in the country to develop an Integrated Plan looking at how to better manage our area environmental priorities for air, water and land resources, while addressing regulatory requirements and working to keep unfunded mandates affordable.
(A chart of the proposed new sewer rates and industrial fees is included in the attached Powerpoint. City Council will vote on this issue later this fall.)
For more information, please contact Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement Cora Scott at 417-864-1009 or 417-380-3352.