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Engineer Brian Bingham  conducts the public meeting

Why not?

I pressed MSD engineers to answer why installing 100,000 rain barrels in the watersheds to keep rain water from entering into the sewer pipes to begin with was not a preferable plan to building a $ 30 million dollar concrete basin and leveling a forest to build it?

If a rain barrel costs a home owner $ 100 dollars and holds fifty galllons you can install 5 million gallons of clean water storage for $ 1 million dollars instead of paying $ 12 million for 2.74 million gallons of storage of rain water mixed with sewage that must then be sent to the treatment plant for expensive treatment. Keeping rain water out of the sewer system saves money and allows reduced size big concrete projects.

The engineers categorically rejected this challenge to their big dig project saying that EPA would not allow them to propose a project they could not control. They could not depend on home owners to empty rain barrels during dry periods--so there was no reliable guarantee that the rain water removal would actually occur.

The Board room later filled up with engineers and local folks to see a series of presentations

MSD engineers fielded questions and engaged in lively discussion of the selected IOAP  projects

Justin Gray answered specific questions about the CSO 127 Overflow Basin

Angela Ackridge gave an overview of the IOAP


MSD’s Big Dig major sewer projects will fill the pockets of concrete contractors and engineering firms 

MSD’s $ 850 million Integrated Overflow Abatement Plan - IOAP was summarized for the public in an Open House at MSD’s main office yesterday, September 27th 2011. The cordial public consultation process included a chance to sit a table with young MSD engineers who tried to explain the complex plan and answer questions. As an attempt to comply with the public consultation requirements for agencies governed by the Clean Water Act--I grade it, A plus.

It was such a good effort, I regret having to complain that it should have come a year earlier before such projects as the long sewer trunk lines being built in the Floyds Fork watershed to remove sewer flow from the Jeffersontown treatment plant, broke ground. What MSD presented yesterday was in many areas a done deal, with no chance for the public to make meaningful comment or see what alternatives might be considered.

In the case of the closure of the polluting Jeffersontown treatment plant, the selected engineering fix includes transporting east end industrial and residential  wastewater halfway across the county out of the Chenoweth Run watershed into the South Fork of Beargrass Creek watershed and thence to the Morris Forman or Derek Guthrie treatment plants.  The growing industrial corridor around J-town will not have to include a local wastewater treatment plant to remove the industrial discharges, and in a range of storms that exceed the design capacity of the new pump stations and trunk lines, new sewer overflows containing east end wastewater may pop up along the length of the massive trunk lines.

Expanding cost of major projects

MSD is presently being audited by the state auditor’s office. Some of the projects previously announced have grown in scope and expense. MSD engineers reported that the Grinstead-Lexington Road CSO 127 Overflow Basin had previously been sized based on a flawed computer model. The model predicted sewer overflow volumes that would have to be contained for MSD to meet its goal of allowing no more than 8 overflows per year through those CSOs. The prior estimate was the need for a 2.74 million gallon basin to be located behind Jim Porters Tavern in the wetlands along the Middle Fork of Beargrass Creek.  That massive concrete capped tank was estimated to cost $ 12,950,000.00.

MSD subsequently did actual flow measuring and recalibrated their computer model. The result was up sizing the basin to hold 12 million gallons and its now expected to cost $ 30 million dollars.

This capacity has no reduction for any storm water capture in the local neighborhoods that would reduce the amount of storm water that goes into catch basins and through roof downspouts into the combined sewer pipes.