The City of Keokuk, Iowa has reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to improve its combined sewer system over the next 20 years, reducing discharges of hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage to the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
Under an administrative compliance order, the city will submit to EPA and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) a long-term control plan for improving its sewers to reduce overflows by Dec. 31, 2012.
Under the agreement the city must complete the implementation of all terms of the order by the end of 2030.
Keokuk was required to develop a long-term control plan in 2002, when IDNR issued the city a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The city submitted a draft plan in 2006, but it failed to include dates for implementation and completion. EPA has been working with city officials in Keokuk to approve a plan since 2007.
An inspection by EPA in late November and early December 2010 found that Keokuk had violated conditions of its NPDES permit by failing to operate and maintain its wastewater treatment facilities in good working order, allowing for overflows of raw sewage to waterways that eventually flow into the Mississippi River..
Since 2006, Keokuk has proceeded to complete several sewer separation projects without a final approved long-term control plan at a cost of more than $2 million according to city officials.
The city estimates the cost to implement the long-term control plan to be between $60 million and $100 million for total separation of the combined sewer system.
Under the settlement, Keokuk has agreed to submit a collection system management, operation and maintenance program to EPA for review and approval by July. It also requires the city to separate its sanitary sewer system from its storm water sewer system to end combined sewer overflows at various locations by the end of 2015.