An unfunded mandate by the Environmental Protection Agency continues to dictate Rushville’s need to prepare for major expenditures required at the city’s wastewater treatment facility.
Presently, during periods of heavy rains untreated wastewater overflows through a pipe directly into the Flatrock River from the Smiley Avenue treatment plant.
Communities across the country, like Rushville, have been mandated to develop and move forward on plans to separate storm water from waste water or increase storage so that overflow of waste into rivers and streams no longer happens.
Many communities are struggling with how to make dramatic improvements to their antiquated combined sewer overflow systems, as mandated by the EPA, and the rates those improvements impact.
Rushville has taken the first steps to eliminate this problem by refurbishing the Julian Street lift station with money available through depreciation in the wasterwater budget. That project was completed at the end of 2012. Those improvements help carry the wastewater from throughout the city to the treatment plant.
The city is still facing approximate $7.8 million dollar expenditure for upgrades to our current wastewater treatment facility that will fulfill the EPA mandate and also upgrade equipment that is more than 20 years past its usable life expectancy at the plant. The project estimates have run millions of dollars higher in the past until the current plan utilizing newer technology approved by the state was settled on.
The Rushville City Council voted on an increase to water and sewer rates at their recent meeting in order to meet the demands of the mandated improvements. The matter will go before the Council Sept. 3 for a public hearing prior to the third reading and final vote on the matter. Bond ordinances to fund the plan were also approved during the recent meeting.
City leaders, utility board members and volunteers through several administrations have worked to develop the most cost-effective strategies to fulfill the federal requirements. They agree that continuing to wait until the last days under the mandate would only compound the problem and increase the overall costs significantly.