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Environment Local News

MSD to Answer Questions, Take Comments on Sewer Overflow Projects

The Metropolitan Sewer District will hold a public meeting tomorrow afternoon to answer questions about the projects the district is taking to reduce sewer overflow.

MSD spokesman Brian Bingham says there are a number of projects the agency is undertaking as part of a consent decree with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“The large expansion out at the Derek R. Guthrie wastewater treatment plant in southwest Jefferson County is one big one,” Bingham said. “The projects out in Floyds Fork that are related to the elimination of the Jeffersontown wastewater treatment plant. We have a number of smaller green infrastructure projects scattered throughout the community.”

So rather than have multiple individual meetings, MSD will hold an open house to discuss all of the projects. MSD staff members will be available between 3 and 7 p.m. to answer questions and take written testimony from the public about the projects. There is a formal presentation scheduled at 4 and 6pm.

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Environment In-Depth News Local News

Green Building Adapts to Various Structures, Scales in Kentucky Architecture

Green building is often seen as a luxury. A lot of projects are capital-intensive, and take years to make up for their costs in energy savings. But as energy prices rise, sustainable buildings are starting to make even more fiscal sense for all types of buildings.

The corner of Seventh and Liberty streets in downtown Louisville is loud and busy. A bus stops, letting off passengers.

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Across the street, there’s an unexpected break from the concrete: a slightly unruly garden in front of the Metropolitan Sewer District’s downtown headquarters.

“I had never seen a butterfly at the corner of Seventh and Liberty before we put this in and now we have butterflies and other things that will be part of our outside-scape,” Brian Bingham says. He’s the Regulatory Services director for the MSD, and he’s standing in the agency’s rain garden, which is:

“…a bio-infiltration area.  We’ve excavated it out to make it an area that can hold water for a short period of time. We have amended the soils within that area to allow the water to be able to go through it instead of actually ponding in it. And then we’ve come back in with deep-rooted native plants and put them in,” Bingham says.

The rain garden has been here since 2009, and it collects water that runs off the building’s roof and keeps it from ending up in the sewer.

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Environment Local News

EPA Outlines Process in Calculating Pollution Limits for Floyds Fork

Stakeholders including residents and wastewater treatment plant operators gathered in Middletown last night for a meeting with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency. This was the first step in determining new pollution limits for the Floyds Fork watershed.

The state says Floyds Fork is impaired, which means the waterway can’t fulfill its designated functions. The state Division of Water has asked the EPA to help determine the maximum amount of pollution that can be discharged into the watershed without exceeding the state water quality standard.

At the meeting tonight, EPA officials explained the process they’ll use to calculate the pollution limits. Jory Becker of the Division of Water says once the EPA determines that number, it’ll be up to the state to divvy out the pollution limits between treatment plants and smaller polluters.

“You got the waste load allocation for the point sources—those are the permit holders. And then there’s the other part for the storm water runoff and the other things like agriculture and non-point sources and there’ll be a chunk for that,” Becker said. “And we’ll have to decide how the reductions go from there.”

The Metropolitan Sewer District is a major stakeholder in the process. Spokesman Brian Bingham says if MSD is eventually told it won’t be allowed to discharge as much wastewater, it’ll cost customers.

“What it essentially will mean is we’ll have to change the processes at our treatment plants, or potentially build what’s essentially a water treatment plant on the back of the wastewater treatment plant,” he said. “So there are technologies out there, they just add significant costs to the community.”

The EPA’s role in the process is expected to be completed by November next year. Another meeting is planned for this November to update stakeholders on the process.

The agency is looking for information about the watershed from residents—to submit information, email FloydsFork@epa.gov

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Environment Local News

City Says Ohio River Fish Kill Wasn’t Caused by Chemical Spill

City officials have determined that a mysterious sheen on the Ohio River two weeks ago was not caused by a chemical spill. But though they’ve ruled that out, the evidence is inconclusive.

The Metropolitan Sewer District sent several of the Asian Carp that were found dead in the river out for tissue analysis. And according to MSD Regulatory Services Director Brian Bingham, they found….nothing.

“We had a number of tests performed on some of the fish we found that were dead in the area and of all the tests we had run, none of them came back with any chemicals or any metals or any cause of their deaths,” he said.

Bingham says if the fish had been killed by a chemical spill, it would have shown up in the tissue sample. The lack of evidence suggests the fish were killed either by a sudden temperature change or a lack of oxygen, which could have been caused by an algae bloom. Algae blooms are fed by nutrients, like pollution.

“Algae blooms occur all the time in the Ohio,” Bingham said. “Algae blooms that actually kill fish are fairly rare. From our experience, they usually occur during the hotter, dryer periods of time. So it’s a combination of the temperature change and the algae bloom that depletes the oxygen.”

The MSD has closed its investigation into the incident, but Bingham says if any more dead fish are found, the agency may analyze water samples.