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Monday, October 03, 2005

Environment - Indianapolis sewers rates and water quality in the headlines

"Sewer rate may nearly double: Mayor to propose $435 million fix for system" is the headline to a front-page story by Brendan O'Shaughnessy in today's Indianapolis Star. Some quotes:

Sewer and storm water rates would nearly double over the next three years under a proposal to be unveiled today by Mayor Bart Peterson to overhaul a system that dumps raw sewage into city waterways.

For decades, city leaders have done little to address the health and environmental problems that result from the release each year of about 7.8 billion gallons of contaminated water from more than 130 locations in the city's aging system of combined sewers. * * *

Peterson will propose $435 million in upgrades as part of his plan to clean up the mess. His strategy represents the second phase of what will become a 20-year plan to reduce raw sewage overflows to fewer than 10 per year. At present, between 45 and 80 overflows occur annually.

The new rates would bump up sewer costs on monthly water bills for the average homeowner in Marion County to $17.96 by 2008 from $9.59 today. Storm water fees would increase $1 to $2.25 per month on next spring's property tax bills. Also, a sewer connection fee of $2,500 would be imposed for the first time on all new home construction.

At the same time, the city would end its much-reviled Barrett Law, which allows the city to force homes on septic systems to pay for sewer connections under the threat of seizing the property. The city would cover any outstanding Barrett Law debts. It also would assume the cost of constructing the sewer main, leaving homeowners responsible for the much smaller cost of connecting their private property to the sewer.

Indianapolis' privatized water system is also in the news. The front page of the city-state section cotains a story by Rebecca Neal headlined "Water test results probed: 4 utility workers subpoenaed in possible falsification." Some quotes:
Four Veolia Water Indianapolis employees have been subpoenaed to testify in a federal investigation into possible falsification of water quality documents.

Water company officials would provide no details Sunday about the investigation or what positions the four employees hold in the company. The employees received the court order Friday from the U.S. Attorney's Office. * * *

A longtime critic of Veolia, City-County Councilman Jim Bradford said he learned about the investigation Sunday morning and was told the four employees will go before a federal grand jury Tuesday as part of a criminal investigation.

Bradford said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and other agencies are involved in the investigation.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 3, 2005 06:50 AM
Posted to Environmental Issues | Indiana Government