Community Environment

The Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District purchased an ailing sewer system in Bullitt County on Tuesday.

MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott said the acquisition will improve wastewater treatment and result in expanded service capacity for the Bullitt County Sanitation District, which serves about 4,200 customers and has been beset with problems for years.

Back in 2014, a private sewage treatment plant in the sewer system failed, spewing raw sewage into a creek, according to WAVE 3. Things haven’t gotten much better since. The Bullitt County Sanitation District brought in a second private contractor to fix the problem, but they didn’t, Parrott said. To date, there remain issues with the sewer system, including outdated wastewater “package” treatment plants. 

“The problem was never rectified and the state kind of came in and mandated that Bullitt County Sanitation District take the responsibility,” he said. 

MSD paid about $4.3 million to take over the Bullitt County Sanitation District. As of June, the bulk of MSD’s payment for the system is for assuming the district’s outstanding debts and settlements. 

MSD has also taken over an agreement between the state and the sanitation district to fix and clean up the sewers over the next 10 to 15 years, Parrott said. 

As of June, MSD was in $2.6 billion in debt and has a number of problems of its own including raw sewage overflows and smells that disproportionately affect communities of color.

Parrott said MSD’s takeover of the Bullitt County Sanitation District is part of a regional plan to improve wastewater treatment and the environment. MSD made a similar acquisition last year in Oldham County

In Bullitt County, MSD will begin to decommission outdated treatment plants and divert wastewater flow to a new sewer line to fix some of the longstanding issues, he said.

“We’re going to be able to take a lot of flow off that old system and divert that into a newly installed 30-inch diameter line that MSD installed to the south of the Jefferson County boundary,” Parrott said. 

Under the terms of the acquisition, Bullitt County Fiscal Court plans to maintain a 10-year rate structure put in place in 2016 that requires 12% annual rate increases for Bullitt County Sanitation District customers. Former district employees will be integrated into MSD. 

Bullitt County Judge Executive Jerry Summers said the acquisition will create economic development opportunities for Bullitt County. 

“MSD’s acquisition of BCSD will bring wastewater system improvements to protect the health and safety of residents,” Summers said in a press release. 

 

This story has been updated. 

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.