Unfortunately, sewer overflows aren’t really anything out of the ordinary in Louisville. There were 400 times in 2010 and 2011 when untreated waste flowed illegally into area waterways: more than 100 million gallons of sewage. Now the Metropolitan Sewer District has been fined $161,000 by state and federal environmental regulators.
The Courier-Journal’s Jim Bruggers reported the news today. MSD is in the middle of working toward fewer sewer overflows as part of an $850 million federal consent decree, which is raising residential rates. And this latest fine is in addition to $329,000 paid in 2011 for similar overflows.
Brian Bingham, a senior MSD engineer in charge of environmental compliance, said his agency has “already done some of the largest projects to create additional storage capacity and treatment capacity in the system.”
“We have more of those projects planned,” he said, “and those will be happening each year over the next several years.”
Bingham said the fines cover discharges in areas where some of the construction work had not been completed.
There could be more fines, but they should be smaller as the construction work continues, he said.
Sewage spills won’t completely go away because some storms are just too large for any municipal system to practically handle, Bingham said, adding that MSD’s agreement recognizes that.
Bruggers also notes on his blog the problems with even finding out about this fine. It wasn’t listed on the agenda for the April 22 meeting, where it was voted on. The board also took it up after a closed session, which often last an indeterminable length of time, and take stamina to wait out. But the fine was listed in the minutes. MSD Board Chairman James Craig told Bruggers that the board is no longer allowing votes that may be of public interest to take place after a closed session, unless there’s a risk to the agency.