The Metropolitan Sewer District is in the process of implementing a 19-year $850 million plan to upgrade the county’s sewer systems and improve water quality. The MSD held an open house today to answer questions about the project.
Inside the Watterson Expressway, there are combined sewers, where rainwater, wastewater and sewage mix. In the outer corners of Jefferson County, there are sanitary sewers, which is just wastewater and sewage from buildings.
MSD Executive Director Bud Schardein says the agency’s consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency mandates that discharge be reduced. Part of the project involves repairing the county’s sanitary sewers.
“What makes a sanitary sewer overflow so bad is it’s a very concentrated waste water,” Schardein said. “So when it leaks or discharges, there’s not the dilution factor there that there is in a combined sewer overflow that’s mixed with storm water.”
The other parts of the consent decree involve reducing overflow from the combined sewers during storms. The MSD is constructing new storage basins and building rain gardens to help absorb the excess water.
But Louisville resident Clarence Hixson didn’t think the agency’s efforts to get public comment during the meeting were genuine.
“This public consultation is coming in on the tail end of the process instead of at the front end of the process when we might have offered some meaningful input,” he said. “We’ve been denied meaningful input into the alternatives and consideration of this project.”
The MSD staff didn’t address Hixson’s concerns during the public meeting, but later Schardein said the consent decree is flexible, and the MSD is willing to incorporate any good ideas.