MSD : The agency

June 8, 2011

Courier-Journal reporter James Bruggers continues a series of stories looking at MSD’s Board and  management. Figures showing annual bonus payments to top MSD executives amounting to more than $ 300,000 in a time of recession, evidently prompted Mayor Fischer to call for an audit of the agency management. See the article


May 29, 2011

Courier-Journal environment writer James Bruggers breaks a muck raking story about a fired MSD executive team member, Jerry Ferguson who was paid to remain quiet about alleged waste in the agency.

May 25, 2011

Mayor Fischer appoints and the Metro Council approves three new MSD Board members to replace Audwin Helton, Beverly Wheatly and Martin Hoehler.

They are: Tom Austin, James Craig and Yvonne Wells-Hatfield.

March 25, 2011 - MSD Board Chairman Audwin Helton resigns at the request of Mayor Greg Fischer over perceived conflicts of interest in doing business with MSD - See Open Records Request - bottom this page

Parks fund challenges MSD management; state refers claims to private auditors     

James Bruggers,   Louisville Courier-Journal     9-14-2010

In June, The Courier-Journal reported that MSD was carrying its highest level of debt ever — $2.7 billion including interest payments — with more borrowing to come to pay for a 19-year, court-imposed $850 million sewer rehabilitation program.”


also see the MSD Public Document website:


Louisville Metro Sewer District’s powerful influence is felt in Atlanta at EPA, and in Washington, D.C. where lobbyists and agents working for metropolitan sewer agencies across the U.S. pressure Congress to keep environmental protection affordable.

On August 12, 2010, Louisville Metro Council granted MSDs request to issue more than  $ 330 million in bonds to fund a raft of projects necessary to meet the Integrated Overflow Abatement Plan-IOAP. This plan was adopted in an Agreed Order from Western District Federal Court after EPA sued MSD for bypassing and overflowing too much untreated sewage from treatment plants and sewer lines, in wet weather. The effectiveness and long term social consequences of MSDs infrastructure expansion are generally not well understood by the public. MSD Board decisions affecting the environment and livability, have been too influenced by developers chasing dollars. As a consequence, urban water quality fails to meet Clean water Act goals and suburban greenfields are converted to “little boxes on a hillside.” MSD has embarked on a program of building long sewer expressway pipes that convey sewage long distances across the county to existing treatment plants which are being upgraded to handle increased flows. With the new sewer lines will come new sewer overflow locations in Floyds Fork watershed. One goal of the IOAP is the elimination of the the malfunctioning Jeffersontown treatment plant that overflows millions of gallons in wet weather to Chenoweth Run. This page seeks to improve the general knowledge of MSDs programs and operations.

Spinning MSD

    MSD is relentless in its public relations efforts. The agency oversees a sewer system that is arguably one of the largest pollution sources in the mid-south, yet the 2009 Annual Report is glossy page after page of explanations of its ‘green’ projects.  Behind the greenwash, MSD still intends to expand the sewer system to serve urban sprawl, though sewer overflows continue annually on the existing system.    The expansion of the sewer system across the county has consequences on social justice. Poor and predominantly African American residents are left with crumbling infrastructure as the wealth of the agency is used to build treatment conveyance and capacity for theme park style suburban developments for the wealthy in the far east.

New MSD Board appointees bring fresh viewpoint


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Metro Louisville

Presently MSD operates and maintains Louisville’s urban sewer pipe collection system and the wastewater treatment plants where the sewage goes, serving an estimated population of 535,000 at the largest plant Morris Forman in the west end. Wastewater crosses the county from Anchorage to Algonquin street in the west end, then to discharge to the Ohio River.

Calculated monthly in discharge monitoring reports, daily flows to the plant headwork’s average 124 million gallons of combined industrial, commercial and residential sewage. This is averaged from  a daily low of 75 million gallons, to wet weather flows exceeding 290 million gallons. The big treatment plant’s rated capacity is 120 million gallons per day. Source: Alex Novak, Director Operations, DMR, January-February 2010. KPDES Permit  KY0022411.

In January 2010, 700 million gallons of treatment plant bypasses at Morris Forman were recorded. The collection system in wet weather delivers far more contaminated storm water than can be treated to required levels.

Pretreatment Program

MSD accepts industrial and commercial waste by discharge to the sewers and enters into business contracts with 326 companies to accept and treat millions of gallons of industrial wastewater from chemical manufacturers, paint and pesticides producers, machine assemblers and part makers—including Ford and GE, metal plating companies, slaughterhouses, food products producers, laboratories and hospitals.

These sources of strong and toxic wastewater pay fees to MSD and have to comply with provisions of their contracts to pre-treat before discharge to the sewer. Past history has shown problems with monitoring and enforcement of the pre-treatment program. 

On February 13,1981, Ralston Purina discharged the chemical hexane to the sewer system which resulted in a massive explosion along the sewer line under Hill Street and other places downtown. 

On December 1995, the bioroughing towers, a treatment facility at Morris Forman plant,  became clogged with neoprene rubber globs and collapsed in heavy wet weather flows requiring more than $ 7 million dollars of repairs. These problems continue with unexplained odors and mystery discharges even today. In wet weather, industrial waste may be discharged untreated to the Ohio River out of sewer overflows before reaching the treatment plant.

DOWNLOAD MSD Timeline --click on the link below

Tensions between business growth and the Clean Water Act

MSD has expanded the sewer collection system to the entire county to support business and residential growth and development. During the expansion, the quality of wastewater treatment and protection of the environment took second place to supporting growth.

Since the first development of the sewer collections system, more than 115 combined sewer overflow points, CSOs, have discharged billions of gallons annually of untreated wastewater to Beargrass Creek, the Ohio and other county streams, causing extreme pollution and loss of aquatic life.

The sewer system grew exponentially through the 60s, 70s and on, but the sewer overflows were never fixed. The additional sewer line growth into the far reaches of the county to serve new development was also attended with sanitary sewer overflows SSOs, in the part of the sewer collection system that separated storm water from wastewater.

Business interests have exerted extreme pressure on the mayor and planning commission to approve new residential and commercial development in the east county. Even though we have a crisis in sewer pollution, the developers want their new projects approved. They want building permits and low cost sewer service. Since they make political donations—they get their way. MSDs Board and the Planning Commission are political appointees and have no backbone to defend the environment. 

The degradation of all county streams, MSDs poor planning for sewer capacity and treatment, and chronic violations of the Clean Water Act regulations, formed the basis of a lawsuit brought by the Kentucky Natural Resources Cabinet and the EPA against  MSD in 2005. An MSD document from 2009 reported:

On August 12, 2005, the Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) entered into a Consent Decree in Federal Court with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet. State government subsequently assigned all state responsibilities under the Consent Decree to the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection (KDEP). The Consent Decree was developed in response to an enforcement action taken by EPA and KDEP alleging violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) primarily related to sewer overflows. One of the requirements of the Consent Decree is the development and submittal of a Final Sanitary Sewer Discharge Plan (Final SSDP). On December 1, 2008, a draft Amended Consent Decree was released for public comment. The draft Amended Consent Decree addressed alleged violations of the CWA primarily related to wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) performance, record-keeping, and reporting. 

Integrated Overflow Abatement Plan Vol. 3

Subsequently MSD and the EPA entered into an amended consent agreement in Federal District Court, in April 2009, requiring MSD to develop, fund and implement a plan to end violations of the Clean Water Act caused by discharges from the 115 CSOs. Multiple SSOs and treatment plant bypasses.

DOWNLOAD the Federal EPA Complaint against MSD  

Click on the link below

This CSO near east Broadway is 80 years old and has been spilling an annual average of 250 million gallons every year.

Above: The Derek Guthrie (formerly West County) wastewater treatment plant in southwest Louisville--Ohio river to the left. Significant additional wet weather flows will be transported to the Guthrie plant as a result of new sewer interceptors being built to remove flows from the J-town treatment plant. The rated treatment capacity is 30 million gallons per day. As much as 300 million gallons per day could come into the front influent channel of the plant--far in excess of its ability to provide secondary treatment. Additionally, the untreated wastewater will be a product of expanding development in the Floyds Fork watershed. The plant is to be upgraded with a large equalization basin and $ 749,000.00 worth of big air blowers to increase fine air bubble aeration. The monthly discharge monitoring reports will contain the data on how much  insufficiently treated wastewater (bad water) is discharged to the Ohio river. Info: DRGWQTC Blower Replacement Contract # 15479 MSD Board Memo August 11, 2010.

See all Water Quality Discharge Monitoring reports at <>

Above: The infamous Jeffersontown Water Quality Treatment Center (or dirty sewage spilling pollution plant) that has severely polluted Chenoweth Run, and which MSD has pledged to eliminate. The plant has a low rated treatment capacity of only 4 million gallons per day but in big rain events like May 2, 2010 had total flow of 15.38 million gallons coming into the plant. MSD Pursuant to the Consent Decree with EPA, MSD has adopted an Integrated Overflow Abatement Plan IOAP that proposes to close the J-town treatment plant and move J-town sewer treatment flows to Derek Guthrie and Cedar Creek plants by many miles of sewer lines. A 10 million gallon per day pump station and force main will send some flows to Hikes Lane and then to the Derek Guthrie plant for treatment. Another portion will flow by gravity sewer to the Billtown Pump Staion to be built on Seatonville Road and from there pumped and flow to the Cedar Creek treatment plant. The site of the J-town plant may be converted to a wet weather sewage storage basin.

J-town has a large and growing industrial waste business sector that discharges pollutants to the collection system and area land development is increasing the demand for treatment capacity.

Below: Floyds Fork Treatment Plant south of Shelbyville Road on the Floyd’s Fork

Above: Cedar Creek Treatment Plant,  rated at 7.5 Million gallons of treatment capacity per day. This plant can see 14 million gallons per day during rain events.

MSD’s History narrative from the Storm Water Quality Management Plan

The eastern half of Jefferson County is part of the Outer Bluegrass geological region of Kentucky and is underlain by limestone. Located within the urbanized area of Louisville, the central parts of the Beargrass Creek watershed are underlain by karstic limestone. Small sinkholes, caves and seasonal springs occur in this area.

Page 1.2-6

“ Drinking water was obtained from numerous individual and neighborhood wells while each home was served by a privy. Flood events and porous alluvial soils blurred the distinction between the contents of the two. An uncontaminated supply of water was needed to stop the spread of typhus and periodic outbreaks of cholera in the city.

The Louisville Water Company was incorporated in 1854 “with authority to establish and maintain, within or near the city of Louisville, reservoirs, engine- houses, pumping machinery, etc., necessary to furnish at all times an abundant supply of fresh and wholesome water to the inhabitants of that city.” More information is available at

Water was first pumped from the waterworks at Zorn Avenue and River Road, a location upstream on the Ohio River from the City, in October 1860. The water company history reports that the original system had 26 miles of water main and 512 customers.

As soon as running water was available to the public, sewage was created and had to be dealt with. The ever-increasing amount of sanitary wastewater was plumbed from homes into the existing storm sewers and ditches. To get the open sewer that was then Beargrass Creek out of downtown, a new cutoff channel was dug that rerouted the creek to the Ohio River east of town, and the natural creek bed was filled in and parts of it turned into a combined sewer.

The Commission on Sewers was formed to construct a better sewer system for the City. New “combined” sewers were constructed for 60 years as water mains were continuously extended to the expanding and increasingly industrial city. Combined sewers served the dual purpose of draining all the surface water and stormwater out of the city and carrying the raw sewage away from the population. Combined sewers eventually replaced the surface streams in most of the city.

Surface streams were moved or buried. The South Fork of Beargrass Creek was turned

into a straightened ditch and parts of it replaced by a concrete canal referred to as the “improved channel” portion of the creek. Later, interceptor sewers were constructed along Beargrass Creek to carry combined sewage downstream from more affluent residential areas before disposing of it in the creek.

The Upper Dry Run tributary to Mill Creek in South Louisville was replaced by a large sewer that flowed into the 27-foot diameter tunnel called the Southwestern Outfall. That pipe was constructed to drain the sewage and stormwater from the southern part of the City to the Ohio River at Paddy’s Run.

The Metropolitan Sewer District was formed by state law in 1946 to build, operate and maintain the City of Louisville sewer system, and was authorized to collect user fees to fund the expanding system. Private companies constructed and operated sewer systems outside the City, and many county neighborhoods were constructed with cesspits and septic tanks. Up until 1958 all sewers emptied raw sewage directly into the nearest creek or the Ohio River.

During wet weather the catch basins and roof downspouts in the combined sewer area drained into the sewers. Once MSD completed the first sewage treatment plant in 1958, raw sewage during dry weather was diverted from the large combined sewers into interceptor pipes that were installed by MSD along the streams, and then into the treatment plant. During wet weather the excessive volume beyond the capacity of the interceptors overflow the mixture of stormwater and sewage into the streams at Combined Sewer Overflows. MSD’s Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plan now addresses the water pollution issues in the combined sewer service area.

Outside the City’s combined sewer area, stormwater drainage and flood control were continually at issue. From the outset, settlement in the county routinely included filling and draining “small swamps and shallow ponds.” Farmers constructed open channel ditches and installed drainage tiles to dry out the land in order to cultivate crops. Drainage of the large and extensive “wet  woods” swamps, marshes and “fish pools” that lay to the south of the City was begun by the Jefferson Pond Draining Company authorized and chartered in 1838 by the state Legislature.

Financed by property tax assessments on benefited properties, that company constructed Pond Creek, Northern Ditch, Southern Ditch and other canals to drain Ash Pond and Oldham’s Pond as well as other interior shallow backwater lakes called “fish pools” and their adjacent wetlands in order to “make usable land from an existing swamp.”

The Jefferson Pond Draining Company went out of existence due to financial questions and legal challenges to its taxing authority in 1868. Subsequent drainage canals were constructed by the County, and later were deepened and widened by the Army Corps of Engineers. Over the years, the entire Mill Creek watershed was put into ditches and canals and its upper section was rerouted to the Ohio River as the Mill Creek Cutoff. The Pond Creek watershed was similarly dealt with.”

This Open Records Request was never sent


Pursuant to KRS 61.870 - KRS 61.884

To:  MSD, Metropolitan Sewer District

Paula M. Purifoy, Legal Counsel

700 W. Liberty Street

Louisville, Kentucky

Date:   April 26, 2010



Clarence H. Hixson

1336 Hepburn Avenue

Louisville, KY 40204

(502) 758-0936

An examination of the MSD Board minutes for the past two years shows that most matters before the Board were agreed to by unanimous vote of the Board. It also showed that in a number of instances, a Board member abstained from voting, indicating that they possibly had a beneficial interest in the outcome of the Board vote.

MSD’s past approval of billions of dollars in contracts has not resulted in protection of the environment as required by its Clean Water Act permits, but instead, resulted in continued pollution of local waterways and finally resulted in a federal lawsuit compelling compliance by MSD.  The public interest in discovering any self-dealing between MSD Board members and the public agency is a compelling one. This Open Records request is not made for any commercial purpose or for profit or to disrupt the function of the agency. This Open Records request seeks to obtain public disclosure of the money, property or benefits if any, obtained by the current and immediate past MSD Board members from MSD and Louisville Green Corporation directly or through others.

In addition, this request is for disclosure of the same information where the spouse, sister, brother or son or daughter of the Board member is benefitted or receiving payment or property.

MSD is unquestionably a “public agency” within the meaning of KRS 61.870(1). KRS KRS 76.010. 09-ORD-041, p.3. The undersigned requests a timely response pursuant to KRS 61.880(1)  within three business days which may be made by email to, followed by a letter mailed by first class mail.  03-ORD-063.

The undersigned, request that the following public records be made available for inspection and copying.

All requests in the numbered paragraphs below seek any responsive public records including general statistics, prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by MSD in the period 1-1-07 to 4-23-10:

1)Records showing the nature of the transaction and the dollar amount of any business between MSD or its contractors and subcontractors, and private, for-profit companies, corporations, partnerships or individual enterprises of any form, doing work for MSD or said contractors, in which any members of the MSD Board of Directors have or own any interest or right to benefit. This request is for records of Board members having done business with MSD or Louisville Green Corporation or presently doing business with them either by direct contract or through subcontracts with MSD contractors. This request includes the disclosure of any MSD rules or policy in force related to business that MSD Board members may do with MSD or Louisville Green.

An ‘interest or right to benefit,’ includes owning shares of a corporation doing business with MSD, a Board member receiving a salary from an entity doing business with MSD, a Board member receiving payment or distribution of funds or any benefit from an entity doing business with MSD, or a business entity in which the Board member is involved receives or contracts for MSD or Louisville Green Corporation services or obtains property or equipment formerly owned by the public agency.

2)Records of money paid directly or through subcontractors or by any method by MSD to any for-profit businesses of which MSD Board chairperson Beverly A. Wheatley is an owner, part owner, officer, shareholder or employee or entitled to any benefit, including identification of contracts and the total amount of money involved in:

a)business with Harry Bailen Builders, Inc.

b)business with Wheatley Roofing Company, Inc.

c)records of money paid to MSD by corporations or LLC entities owned or partly owned by Beverly A. Wheatley.

d)The number of abstentions from Board votes and the reason

3)Records of money paid directly or through subcontractors or by any method by MSD to any for-profit businesses of which MSD Board member Audwin A. Helton is an owner, part owner, officer, shareholder or employee or entitled to any benefit, including identification of contracts and the total amount of money involved in:

a)business with Spatial Data Integrations, Inc.

b)records of money paid to MSD by corporations owned or partly owned by Audwin A. Helton.

c)The number of abstentions from Board votes and the reason

4)Records of money paid directly or through subcontractors or by any method by MSD to any for-profit businesses of which MSD Board member Charles E. Weiter is an owner, part owner, officer, shareholder or employee or entitled to any benefit.

a) The number of abstentions from Board votes and the reason

5)Records of money paid directly or through subcontractors or by any method by MSD to any for-profit businesses of which MSD Board member Doyle M. Stacy, is an owner, part owner, officer, shareholder or employee or entitled to any benefit.

6)Records of money paid directly or through subcontractors or by any method by MSD to any for-profit businesses of which MSD Board member Martin D. Hoehler is an owner, part owner, officer, shareholder or employee or entitled to any benefit.

a)including records of amounts of money paid to MSD by corporations or LLC entities partly owned by Martin D. Hoehler.

b)The number of abstentions from Board votes and the reason

7)Records of money paid directly or through subcontractors or by any method by MSD to any for-profit businesses of which MSD Board member Benjamin K. Richmond is an owner, part owner, officer, shareholder or employee or entitled to any benefit. 

8)Records of money paid directly or through subcontractors or by any method by MSD to any for-profit businesses of which MSD Board member Arnold Celentano is an owner, part owner, officer, shareholder or employee or entitled to any benefit.

9) For the MSD Board members in 2-8, provide a copy of accounting records showing the total dollar amount paid or obligated by contract, during the same time period above, to the companies or entities of which the Board member was entitled to any benefit or interest.

10) Records of money paid directly or through subcontractors or by any method by Louisville Green Corporation to any for-profit businesses of which any MSD Board member has an interest or receives a benefit.



Clarence H. Hixson

MSD Album

Double click on the picture at left to see the MSD photo album. Enlarge pictures by double clicking.

Google Satellite views of

Louisville Metro Sewer District major wastewater treatment plants

click on these interactive Google maps to zoom in and grab and move the view.

Below: The Morris Forman plant with primary settling tanks and secondary clarifies sits between fuel tank farms and the Carbide Graphite plant

The largest treatment plant in the system, the

Morris Forman wastewater plant on Algonquin avenue has a checkered history of problems. Industrial waste discharges to the plant from Rubbertown and illegal dumping have clogged and poisoned processes, caused equipment collapse and exploded the sewers.

The main entrance to the Morris Forman plant


MSD Board member James Craig makes a point as the Policy Committee considers new public speaking policies for MSD Board meetings.

The policy committee members including new appointees Craig and Yvonne Hatfield, were advised by MSD Board attorney Larry Zielke about the existing public speaking procedure and some proposed changes. Like the Pirates of the Caribbean, the MSD Board may scrap the adopted public comment bylaws  and treat them more as as guidelines rather than rules.

Craig seems a breath of fresh air and at one point moved to adopt the Metro Council procedure for allowing the public to comment. Yvonne Hatfield also had a fresh perspective and seemed interested in what the public might have to say and willing to take the time to hear it.

Under Metro Ordinances, the Clean Water Act and as appointed representatives, the Board needs to become aware of public opinion. A second reading will take place Monday 9:30 am

Ben Richmond chaired the policy committee meeting                  Attorney Larry Zielke brought proposed rule changes