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KCMO Sewer Project

posted May 27, 2010, 3:12 PM by Laura Calwell   [ updated May 27, 2010, 3:13 PM ]

U.S. vs. The City of Kansas City, Missouri - Consent Decree - Clean Water Act 


On May 18, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lodged a consent decree in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, against the City of Kansas City, Mo. The consent decree requires the city to implement an Overflow Control Plan for its municipal sewer system to address longstanding violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The plan is designed to yield significant long-term benefits to public health and the environment, and provide a model for the incorporation of green infrastructure and technology toward solving overflow issues. 

The consent decree requires the City of Kansas City to spend an estimated $2.5 billion over a 25-year work schedule on repairs, modifications and new construction to rebuild its sewer system. When completed, the sanitary sewer system will have adequate infrastructure to capture and convey combined stormwater and sewage to the city's treatment plants. This is expected to keep billions of gallons of untreated sewage from reaching surface waters. 

As part of the agreement, Kansas City must also spend $1.6 million on a supplemental environment project to implement a voluntary sewer connection and septic tank closure program for income-eligible residential property owners who elect to close their septic tanks and connect to the public sewer. Additionally, the consent decree requires the city to pay a civil penalty of $600,000 to the United States. 

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. More information 


Why does this concern Friends of the Kaw? 


· The largest Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) discharges to the lower Kaw (Kansas River) and very little will be done to address this until 2034 – at the present time KCMO estimates that raw sewage is discharged to the Kaw an average of 36 times per year. Once all the improvements are made (projected for 2034) KCMO estimate that they will still discharge raw sewage to the Kaw but only 7 times per year. 

· Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) has been consulted and made comments but has no recourse or say once this plan is approved. 

· While we applaud this action in principle we believe that EPA and KCMO have not taken into consideration that public recreation on the lower Kansas River has greatly increased with the addition of a ramp at Kaw Point in 2003. Many fishing boats use this access on a daily basis. The Missouri 340 – with over 500 yearly participants and other paddling races either start or finish at Kaw Point on the lower Kaw. Missouri River Relief in partnership with Friends of the Kaw organizes a clean up of the Missouri River and the lower Kaw headquartered at Kaw Point every other year. In 2009 over 400 participated in this event and were physically picking up trash on the banks of both the Kaw and the Missouri. 

· As many folks as possible need to make public comment to get the Justice Departments attention. Please copy and sign (include your address and phone #) the letter on the next page and send it in before June 18, 2010. Include your own comments or visit our web site at www.kansasriver.org to make comments electronically. THANK YOU! 




Date: 


U.S. Department of Justice 

Environment and Natural Resources Division 

ATTN: Public Comment on Consent Decrees 

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 

Washington, D.C. 20530-0001 


RE: Kansas City, Mo., Consent Decree - Clean Water Act 


While I am thankful that Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) is beginning to solve their long standing Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) problems, I am very disappointed the largest KCMO CSO discharge, from the Turkey Creek/ CID Combined Sanitary Sewer Basin (TC CSO), to the Kansas River will take yet another 25 years to be almost fully addressed - unfortunately it will never be fully addressed. At the present time KCMO estimates that there are on average 36 CSO discharges per year to the Kansas River containing raw sewage and at the completion of the planned activities in 2035 they will reduce the CSO discharges to the Kansas River containing raw sewage to an average of 7 per year. While some action will be taken in the near future the most important solutions are 10 to 25 years away. 

I believe that neither EPA or KCMO have taken into consideration the considerable increase in recreation to the lower Kansas River since an access ramp was built at river mile .1 at Kaw Point Park in Kansas City, Kansas on the Kansas River in 2003. Many fishing boats use this access on a daily basis. The Missouri 340 Race that occurs annually and in 2009 had over 500 participants – in 2009 the start of the race was during a rain event so the many participants were in canoes and kayaks on the lower Kansas River when the water quality was being impaired from the TC CSO. Several other paddling races annually either start or finish at Kaw Point on the lower Kansas River. Missouri River Relief in partnership with Friends of the Kaw organizes a clean up of the Missouri River and the lower Kansas River headquartered at Kaw Point every other year. In 2009 over 400 volunteers participated in this event and were physically picking up trash on the banks of both the Kansas and the Missouri affected by the TC CSO. A portage path was recently completed around the WaterOne of Johnson County’s new coffer dam so paddlers from Edwardsville can easily access the lower Kaw and a new access ramp at the Turner Bridge is in the final planning stage. Recreational access to the lower Kaw has and will continue to increase and we request that the Consent Decree schedule of compliance should be shortened to a minimum of twelve years for the entire project. 

The State of Kansas while consulted in this process has no authority in the consent decree to enforce the water quality standards and impairments to the waters of the lower Kansas River caused by the TC CSO nor do they have any redress if the schedule of compliance is lenghtened. KCMO will tragically never be in full compliance with the Clean Water Act and both the lower Kansas River and the Missouiri River below the confluence with the Kansas River will never be considered fishable and swimmable. 


Sincerely,