Panel members in attendance are Wayne Clough, John Hall, Jeff Hilliard, Cecil
Lue-Hing, Mike Marcotte, Billy Turner and Nancy Wheatley. Unable to attend were
Bruce Beck and Larry Roth.
Dr. Clough called the meeting to order and asked Greg Giornelli of the Mayor’s
Office to introduce Linda DeSantis, the new City Attorney, and Jack Ravan, the
Mayor’s nominee to become the Commissioner of Watershed Management, which is
a newly reorganized department. The new department will have responsibility
for all water issues and will include a Bureau of Water, a Bureau of Wastewater
Services and a Bureau of Stormwater Management.
Dr. Clough then asked the members of the regulatory panel to introduce themselves.
Harold Reheis, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, began
by saying that the EPD administers 21 state environmental laws and it has been
delegated all the “delegable” federal permitting programs under the Clean Air
Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Resource Conservation
Recovery Act and so on. EPD’s programs span every aspect of environmental regulation
in Georgia, including water allocation permits. The EPD has been working with
Atlanta and its issues since it was created in 1965.
Scott Gordon, the program management officer of at EPA Region IV, has been
with the EPA for 19 years. He is currently the chief of the Permits and Technical
Assistance Branch in the Water Division. He led the consent decree negotiations
with the City’s team in 1999. The EPA evaluates the state’s implementation of
programs, the effectiveness of programs and sometimes advises on implementation
Sally Bethea, found executiveing director of Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper,
said that her group was established in 1994 with the goal of protecting the
Chattahoochee River Basin and its tributaries. She detailed the timeline of
her group’s lawsuit against the City. She said that Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
has had one goal throughout this process - and that is clean water in urban
tributaries and the Chattahoochee, as soon as possible, at a reasonable cost.
Joel Cowan, chairman of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District
(MNGWPD), introduced himself and said that the MNGWPD was created by the state
legislature two years ago. It covers 16 counties around the City of Atlanta.
All 16 counties are represented on their board, plus the Mayor of Atlanta, plus
10 citizen members appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker of the
House. The MNGWPD’S legislative mandate is to have a report and recommendations
for improving water quality in the North Georgia water planning district ready
by May 2003. MNGWPD’s concerns are divided into treated drinking water, waste
water and storm water. There are about 300 people involved in this process.
They are a planning body and don’t have regulatory authority.
Dr. Clough then invited the Mayor’s Clean Water Advisory Panel to pose questions
to the regulatory panel. Billy Turner began the questions by asking Scott Gordon
if he could describe the national CSO policy and how it relates to the situation
Mr. Gordon said that the national CSO policy was established in 1994 and because
it was believed that the policy said that national CSOs were being underregulated
in their application, which were having had a bad effect on water quality standards.
Through ththat process of policy development at, the EPA created the nine minimum
controls that to govern operation of CSOs were supposed to implement. The The
controls were intended to work from a presumptive basis, meaning that, if those
the controls were in place, wouldthe CSOs would meet water quality standards.
isAs a presumptive standard, the national policy is not monitored in many situations.
In 2000, Congress mandated the nine minimum controls. As it relates to Atlanta,
there is a unique situation because of Judge Robert Thrash’s earlier decision
from the initial Riverkeeper lawsuit. Atlanta’s CSOs are required to meet end-of-pipe
water quality limits so; therefore, the EPA did not have to implement the controls
from a presumptive standpoint since they were implemented from a monitoring
Mr. Turner asked Harold Reheis to relate Georgia law and its relationship to
the overall situation. Mr. Reheis answered that the legislature passed a law
in 1990 or 1991 that said cities with CSOs need to meet special requirements
by lawdealing with combined sewers. Six Georgia cities were affected by the
new law – Atlanta, Augusta, Albany, Cedartown, Rome and Columbus. Atlanta, which
had a CSO control program in progress, was given a 1993 deadline to bring its
CSO operations into compliance. The other cities were given until 1995 to comply.
That applied to the other five cities and those cities met the deadline of the
requirements. Atlanta did not meet its deadlinesThose other five cities met
the deadline of the requirements. Atlanta did not meet its deadlines.. The EPD
fined the City heavily, and the fines continued until the City completed work
in 1998. Atlanta paid more than $19 million in fines, which were placed into
an Environmental Trust Fund used to fund hazardous waste clean-ups.
Mike Marcotte asked the regulatory panel members to describe their views of
the linkages between CSOs and discharges from the MS4-permitted – the separate
storm water system – and how they view that phenomenon and the City’s efforts
in storm sewer discharges. He observed that separation moves a good bit of pollution
load from one system to another without necessarily doing anything about it.
Mr. Reheis said the Georgia EPD has taken an aggressive stance against sanitary
sewer overflows (SSOs) by fining cities that have them. The objectives are straightforward
– they think sewage needs to be kept inside the pipe until it gets to the sewage
treatment plant and it should be kept there until it meets the permit limits.
If a city is not able to keep the sewage inside the pipe, that’s a problem that
needs to be fixed. The EPD has instituted a zero-tolerance strategy. Whenever
there are SSOs, the EPD responds by taking an enforcement action. In the first
amended consent decree, the EPA, EPD and the City of Atlanta negotiated specific
stipulated penalties so that if the City has an SSO, it is going to pay aa fine
for that. S. ome high-volume spills warrant actions separate from the provisions
in the first amended consent decree. EPD has taken action seven times since
the signing of the decree for high volume spills, and those needed to be dealt
with differently than what was in the decree. TheThe City has paid $194,000
for those seven incidents.. With regard to the connection between these two,
the City of Atlanta and many other communities are also covered by the MS4 permitting
program. Atlanta is doing about the same as everybody else. That program is
getting more stringent.
Mr. Gordon said he thinks the CSO expectation and the MS4 expectation are the
same – water quality standards. Right now they have a little better handle on
the technology and expectations of the CSOs as they build toward water quality
standards. On MS4s, they are just beginning the journey. On first generation
permits, they expect municipalities to go out and start collecting data to find
out what is happening to storm water in their watershed. Storm water creates
a heavy pollution load on waterways in the United States. First generation permits
are supposed to evolve over time. Through best management practices (BMPs),)
the EPA will have greater influence on the pollutant load coming off impervious
surfaces. Ultimately, by the third or fourth generation, the EPA will expect
water quality standards to be met through demonstration, so the endpoint is
the same.. So it is the same endpoint, but we’re a decade away in this country
of having that expectation.
The EPA is moving toward having another SSO rule in December 2002, shifting
the pressure to the sanitary side of the sewers.
Sally Bethea stated that the precursor to Joel Cowan’s group was an effort
called the Clean Water Initiative in 2000. It was started by the Metro Atlanta
Chamber of Commerce, a regional business coalition of businesses and others
who looked at the water quality problem. They determined that 80% of the water
quality problems in the urban streams and the river were from polluted storm
water runoff. In terms of potential solutions for thethe CSO situation, it is
very important to look at the consequences to the areas that are separated in
terms of unleashing the polluted storm water, and at how the streams might be
impacted as well.
Joel Cowan said it was disheartening to see the correlation between the fecal
coliform and the storm water runoff. The second issue is IN& I (inflow and
infiltration).. Gwinnett County is finding that upwards of 20% of what it is
treating comes from IN& I. Mr. Cowan said that is a big number. The science
of controlling that much inflow is incomplete. The EPD agrees that storm water
runoff is the problem. There is a lesson in the Peachtree Creek situation. No
one has been able to tell Mr. Cowan the percentage of impervious surface in
the Peachtree Creek water basin. He has heard it is 38% or 42%, but it is an
impossible result to allow that much impervious surface without some treatment.
Gov. Barnes recognized that and created a Greenspace Commission, which set a
target to achieve 20% greenspace in all new developments. The counties have
jumped in and adopted that and it is a highly popular plan. He said the water
quality problemcannot be resolved without addressing land use.
Dr. Clough asked how the regulatory panel members see the current level of
monitoring that ’sthat’s available and the data it generates versus what they
think is necessary.
Mr. Cowan said all the water systems independently monitor what comes out of
the pipe for their own standards. One cheap and easy way to do that is to have
a system to capture all the data that is already being gathered now. now.There
are monitoring systems already in place on the Chattahoochee. The data is already
there. We just need to capture it and put it in a system that will highlight
Ms. Bethea said that there was actually very little water quality data currently
being taken in the urban streams and in the Chattahoochee. tThe he consent decree
states that there is a significant amount of monitoring that needs to occur,
and Bethea suggested that the Panel hear from the USGS, which is working with
the City on that issue. It is critical to have monitoring so we know what is
and what isn’t working.
Mr. Reheis added that the water quality monitoring data that we have and the
water quality monitoring that we do now is woefully inadequate. He said the
EPD is trying to increase the magnitude and effectiveness of all that. It has
been improved in recent years, but is still inadequate. He said that they need
a lot more money to be able to do it right and that is hard to get.
Mr. Gordon said, “You can’t get enough monitoring.” The amount of information
needed to keep the public generally knowledgeable about whether or not a water
body is safe or bad, is pretty one dimensional. He said efforts to get basin
information out have been effective, but when you’re talking about data for
decision-making purposes, you’re talking about a whole evolution of data.
Ms. Wheatley asked Mr. Gordon how comfortable the EPA is with the data used
in modeling for the City’s plan. He said that, at the time the plan was presented,
they thought it was the best information available. He said that when the EPA
has to move forward on what appears to be a generally good engineering practice,
they make those decisions. He continued, “On a scale of one to good, I saw closer
Cecil Lue-Hing asked a question regarding issues that arise when we target
watershed watershed as an option. How does MNGWPD feel about the watershed concept?
How does the Riverkeeper group feel about it?
Mr. Cowan said that his group is approaching improving water quality as a series
of building block blocks and the key block is watersheds.. Georgia is a home
rule state, meaning each city and each county has constitutional home rule powers.
When you say “by watershed,” you also have to say “and by jurisdiction.” The
only way public policy can deal with that is to set targeted limits. They approach
it by watershed because that is the way it is tested and monitored.
Ms. Bethea said the Riverkeeper group has an excellent relationship with the
City and its current administration. Riverkeeper does a lot of work with community
workshops, aAdoptdopt-a-Stream programs, soil erosion workshops, clean-ups,
etc. They are a watershed organization.
She said that they look for every opportunity to help Atlanta within the confines
of the consent decree, which has deadlines and requirements that they strongly
Mr. Reheis said it is a very hard thing to get North Georgia working with Metro
Atlanta. The people from the headwater counties of the Chattahoochee – upstream
from Lake Lanier – don’t feel like they cause any problems for Metro Atlanta
and they have good water quality up there. They don’t feel like they need to
be part of a watershed solution. Mr. Reheis said that those people in the headwater
counties could buy into being part of a watershed solution to keep their local
streams and Lake Lanier clean. The greatest opportunity for local governments
working together on watershed solutions would be those downstream of Buford
Dam. The home rule culture of this state – where each local government works
within its own boundaries – dictates that they will take care of their own problems,
but they don’t necessarily want to help anyone else take care of their problems.
It’s difficult to get everyone to work together.
Mr. Gordon said that the EPA has always supported watersheds – mostly from
a grassroots, non-point source solution. The EPA is rekindling the concept of
effluent trading from a watershed perspective.. That approach has been fraught
with conflict historically and this process is following the same track as the
old. He said they still believe that effluent trading makes sense, even in a
NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permitting scheme where
you’re dealing with a finite number of pollutants.
Ms. Wheatley asked how the community currently uses the water resources. Ms.
Bethea replied that the streams that feed the Chattahoochee run through neighborhoods
and parks and are currently posted with signs that warn they are hazardous.
The streams should be made suitable for kids to play in. Regarding the river,
it is used for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking, with a national park along the
way. She said that Atlanta had turned its back on the river but now realizes
it is a beautiful resource.
Mr. Reheis said that the one thing that would probably make all these solutions
easier to achieve would be if Atlanta had a different geography than it has.
About 75% or more of the people in Metro Atlanta get their drinking water from
the Chattahoochee River. That is the most important use made of the Chattahoochee
River. All the drinking water intakes are above where Peachtree Creek comes
into the river. The water supply intakes are in the cleanest part of the river..
They are in the part of the river that is upstream of all the CSOs and the largest
sewage treatment plants. The urbanized streams we have are small and don’t lend
themselves to recreation. All these streams are valuable as a resource. He said
that, perhaps if all the water intakes were downstream of the whole Metro Atlanta
area, we would be more mindful of land use and how important it is not to build
combined sewer systems in the cities. He continued to say that we are dealing
with the legacy of something that is 100 years old and people just weren’t as
enlightened then as we are now.
Mr. Turner asked for a good explanation of the current situation regarding
the consent decree and the specific plan that the City of Atlanta has agreed
to. In terms of any modifications to the plan that might be proposed, what would
be the process or how would you evaluate any changes that are proposed?
Mr. Gordon said that in the consent decree is a very narrow band of expectations
for Atlanta. The EPA’s test for whether Atlanta had complied was going to be
a combination of processes, in technology, treatment and timing that would meet
the EPA’s expectations. In the consent decree, the EPA/EPD gave Atlanta about
10 years, which is about the same length of time that every other city with
CSOCSOs in the country had to implement controls. In the implementation of that
requirement, Atlanta provided an alternative that the EPA looked at and determined
that it was an acceptable plan. Regarding change, what the EPA has always said
is that there are abilities in the consent decree to make fundamental changes.
The first test is to convince the plaintiffs themselves that it is something
that actually works. If that happens, they can move the judge to accept that
process or move that the judge change the consent decree. For example, Atlanta
has begun to evaluate its ability to have extensions to the consent decree deadlines.
Mr. Gordon said that early in the process, when they were trying to figure
out the costs, Atlanta officials chose to evaluate the affordability of the
CSO remediation process. The affordability analysis is a standard process in
which the EPA allows local governments to evaluate their tax base and whether
their ratepayers can actually handle the financial load in the time frames that
are set out. The first affordability analysis was not accepted, but the second
submittal for this review was accepted and the the national EPA office determined
that Atlanta was not in the highest category of financial burden but instead
met the standards for medium burden.. If a city is in the high burden category,
the agency may need to extend the timeline. Atlanta did not meet that standard
with its proposal. He said that the EPA has told Atlanta officials that on a
case-by-case scenario, if they run into short-term financial burdens that EPA
and EPD are available to consider extensions related to those situations. For
example, there is a motion in front of the judge now to change a major component
of the consent decree as it relates to Nancy Creek. Atlanta was able to prove
a substantial burden, from both an engineering basis and an economic basis,
to meet the mandated deadline, and the EPA agreed to present the request for
an extension to the judge, and the extension was granted.
Mr. Reheis said that EPD would need to see four things for them to be willing
to support a request to the judge that it would be ok for a time extension..
One of those would be that the extension would have to be project specific –
it couldn’t be for the entire range of what is covered in the consent decree.
Second, any time extension should result in a lower project cost. He said, “If
we’re going to extend the time, wouldn’t it be nice if the ratepayers could
end up saving money in that either from capital or operational costs?” Third,
there ought to be significant compliance with the water quality standards in
the interim if the schedule is going to be extended by a year or two years.
And finally, he would hope that we would end up with better protection of the
environment and public health as a result of an extension. If those tests can
be met, then EPD is willing to advocate for more time. Mr. Reheis said that
maybe there is something else that works that would be attractive enough to
get EPD to look at criteria other than these, but these four criteria seem to
be the minimum criteria.
Ms. Bethea said the people in her organization and other plaintiffs from downstream
are expecting timeliness.
Ms. Wheatley asked about changes in technology. She said that the Panel has
been hearing from the community that there is a great belief that sewer separation
is the solution. She added that she thinks about three things when she thinks
of separation – first is time to do it and how you schedule it, the second is
the cost, and the third is what it means for water quality.
Mr. Reheis said that in an ideal world, he wished there were no combined sewers
in America. In the case of Atlanta’s strategy, which was presented to and approved
by EPD, it is going to have a number of benefits for water quality. Storm water
that runs off these 19 square miles of densely developed urban land will be
treated. Street runoff is going to be treated, and there is benefit from that.
The current plan is not to separate 100 percent of the combined sewer areas
– it is 27 percent – but the rest of that area is going to have treatment. Mr.
RehisReheis said that if we were to have a system whereby 100 percent of the
sewers were separated and you didn’t have any storm water getting into the sewer
system, that would be good for operating sewage treatment plants and there would
be some benefit to the receiving streams in that they wouldn’t see combined
sewer overflows again. But they would still see a whole lot of urban runoff.
That’s going to continue to happen. Urban runoff would receive no treatment.
It would receive only the best management practices that may ultimately come
out of the MS4 permits. He said that he knows now that storm water is going
to get some treatment out of the plan Atlanta proposed and the EPD approved.
He continued by saying that it’s possible if you separate 100 percent of the
sewers and you do something else with some of that urban runoff, you’ll end
up with a better overall water quality situation. But he thinks that it will
take more money to do it and he doesn’t know how much more time it will take
to get there. He said that he is not sure that EPD’s four criteria would be
met under that scenario.
Mr. Gordon said that had it not been for Atlanta’s dramatic history of failure
to comply with regulations, it might be perfectly reasonable to start from the
drawing board and evaluate what would be best for Atlanta’s infrastructure.
The EPA’s goals in the consent decree were to get Atlanta back on target thewith
clean water expectations as quickly as possible. He said, “Let’s continue to
march forward having water quality expectations met at the major discharge points
of Atlanta’s system.” Mr. Gordon said that in reality, we are halfway through
the first CSO consent decree and we have assured the population of Atlanta that
water quality will be met in Atlanta and that CSOs will be greatly reduced in
flow and pollution level. He has not seen a plan yet that would make the EPA
take a lot of pause. They entertained a number of concepts in the negotiation
of the consent decrees, as well as after the consent decrees were entered. They
have routinely met with members of the public who have different ideas about
better solutions. The EPA can’t turn its back on better solutions, but Mr. Gordon
said those have not been afforded to them – certainly not ones that meet the
basic expectations of timing and water quality. It’s tough for the EPA to walk
away from something that’s halfway done right now from the CSO perspective and
extend that time line by some unknown factor.
Mr. Reheis held up a chart that showed the annual frequency of CSOs in Atlanta.
The chart showed an average of 200 to 250 overflows per year from the six CSO
facilities. The current plan would take that down to no more than four overflows
and eliminate some of those, . and all would meet water quality standards. He
said that is a pretty good deal.
Dr. Clough asked Program Manager Joe Basista what his folks have done to keep
the EPA and EPD up to date with the status of any plan refinements and modifications.
Mr. Basista answered that right now the authorized plan currently calls for
27 percent separation but no separation of full basins. The EPA asked the City
to look at separating multiple full basins and that whatrequest began the refinement
process. He said that the consultants decided to look at all basins and develop
a separation plan for each of the six full basins. That process evolved into
examining how much of the combined sewer area could be separated and within
the consent decree deadline and what benefits, if any, would be derived from
that separation. There have been no formal discussions or resubmittals to the
EPA or EPD.
Ms. Wheatley asked why the EPA asked the City to look at separating multiple
full basins. Mr. Gordon answered that the consent decree limits the overflows
to four and that Atlanta came in with a plan – proposing 27 percent separation,
and , storage offline and additional treatment – that met objectives, they were
happy with that. However, EPA made an editorial comment that, by looking at
a map and overlaying drainage basins, you could eliminate CSOs if you concentrated
the areas of separation. The EPA chose to make that editorial comment because
it is was justified, . Bbutut the City could have maintained that its plan still
was viable and that the EPA and EPD had accepted the EPA/EPD authorization on
the plan as it stood.. The EPA and EPD would have had to agree with the City.
He said that they applaud the City in continuing to move toward long-term full
Dr. Lue-Hing asked Ms. Bethea if her group has any preference in how to fix
the problem. She replied that Riverkeeper has no preference on technology. It
is up to the City to determine how they want to fix the problem. Riverkeeper’s
goal is to have clean water standards met by a certain deadline. They don’t
want to micromanage what the cCityity does in terms of technology.
Ms. Bethea also said that she thinks this lawsuit and enforcement action are
being asked to resolve all wastewater and storm water problems in the entire
city of Atlanta, and they can’t. She said a storm water utility and a storm
water management plan are needed, along with many other things. She contended
that we also need to focus on the 85% of the city that is separated and has
terribly polluted streams.
Mr. Marcotte asked what the process is for reexamining water quality standards.
Mr. Reheis answered that there is a well defined process in federal regulations
on how to do a use attainability analysis – what has to be in included to justify
choosing a water quality standard or classification. Water quality standards
have to be reviewed every three years under federal law and there is a process
changefor changing a water quality standard. However, changes in stream classification
for streams have to be done by use attainability analysis. You have to show
that it is impractical or impossible to meet a standard in order to reduce an
existing classification. The Chattahoochee is classified as drinking water and
recreational. All streams in Georgia are classified as fishing streams if they
are not classified as recreational or drinking water. The Georgia EPD has no
problem with anyone asking for a stream to be reclassified, but the EPD is not
going to initiate that process in Metro Atlanta and probably not anywhere in
Georgia. He said that if someone requests a reclassification, the EPD will study
it with all seriousness and fairness, but they won’t initiate it themselves.
Regarding fecal coliform, he said the EPD is in the process of changing over
its fecal coliform standard to an e-coli standard, which he thinks is a more
meaningful standard. They have started the process of working with the public
to change the standard – which is the first time a standard has been changed
in 12 or 13 years.
Mr. Turner asked Mr. Gordon if the current requirements for storm water meet
the MS4 rules. He said that in Atlanta’s current plan it provides some treatment
for storm water that is captured in the combined sewer area, and he questioned
the requirements’ consistency.
Mr. Gordon answered that the water quality standards and the end points are
the same. Under the consent decree, we will have controls over the CSOs. In
the long-term, the state of Georgia, through the MS4 process, will have equal
controls over anything that is separated. He said he doesn’t see an inherent
Mr. Reheis said that the EPD wants all streams to meet all quality standards
every time. He thinks we will have better water quality by having treated urban
storm water runoff in treatment plants under this approved CSO plan than if
we were to leave the same amount of runoff to the devices of best management
practices through the MS4 permits. He said he doesn’t think we’re going to end
up with a treatment facility to treat urban storm water runoff, and a treatment
plant is going to give superior quality water to that urban runoff, resulting
in better water quality. He said, “We have a better chance of doing that with
the plan that has been approved.”
Mr. Gordon said that he thinks we’re stuck with known technology with the CSOs
versus some long-term approach theinvolving the BMPs to evaluate the same thing.
Those things are unknown. That is the dichotomy here. He said, from a Clean
Water Act standpoint, the national agency has two different concepts – CSOs
and storm water – that we believe will ultimately get to the same end point,
but right now we have much more control over one than the other.
The Panel then held a conference call with Mr. Roger Puchreiter who is the
former director of the Saint Paul Sewer Separation Program. He retired as the
division manager of the sewer utility. He led the sewer separation program in
Mr. Puchreiter gave a brief history of Saint Paul and why it went to complete
separation of its sewer system. Saint Paul sits on the Mississippi River and
all the regional sewers drain directly to the river and some of the other natural
rivers. The average age of its sanitary sewer system is about 80 years old.
There was concern about the direct flow of sewage into the river even in the
1920’s. The first treatment plant was built in 1938. In 1967 a conference was
convened, as the first of many steps, to find ways to clean up the river and
control the number of CSOs. That was the beginning of Saint Paul’s sewer separation
program. After the Clean Water Act was approved by Congress, the first permits
were issued in 1975. It called on the city to have some studies regarding the
clean up of the river. A regional planning council then did a 201 planning study.
One part of that study was improvements of the CSO. The consultants came up
with proposal for storage and conveyance in 1981. The cities of Saint Paul and
Minneapolis objected to that report because combined storage and treatment couldn’t
capture everything so there would still be some overflows occurring. Saint Paul
officials decided they wanted to eliminate all sewage flow to the Mississippi
River and take care of local needs including health concerns. A state CSO task
force was formed by the EPA with representatives of the cities, the state, the
EPA and the Minnesota Pollution Division and some of the larger environmental
groups. That started the sewer separation program.
When asked about the size of Saint Paul, Mr. Puchreiter said that Saint Paul
is about 260,000 people and Minneapolis has about 430,000. Approximately 50
percent of Saint Paul (55 square miles) was separated and now it is 100 percent
separated. Minneapolis still has some combined system overflows, principally
in the downtown area. He also said that storm water is not treated in Saint
Mr. Marcotte asked Mr. Puchreiter to talk about specific improvements in water
quality since going to separation. Mr. Puchreiter said that fecal coliform has
dropped considerably. The return and resurgence of the May Fly is also an indication
of the health of the Mississippi River. Bald eagles have returned to the river
and the fish population and its diversity is much better. In the 1970’s there
were only three species of fish in the river and now there are 25 species of
Mr. Marcotte asked if the problem of basement flooding has improved since sewer
separation. Mr. Puchreiter said it has improved dramatically and the only sewer
backups seen now are if there is a collapsed sewer or other major happening.
Mr. Turner asked about the storm water utility in Saint Paul. Mr. Puchreither
said that a storm water utility charge was established. That charge was a financing
mechanism to pay for separation. The city annually assesses a charge to every
property owner in Saint Paul for storm water control. It is paying off the bond
that was issued for the separation program. It is slowly being utilized for
the maintenance of a storm sewer system and it pays for the cost of the storm
water discharge permit.
Mr. Turner asked what the Metropolitan District does and what do the cities
do regarding sewer issues. Mr. Puchreiter said the Metropolitan District owns
and operates the treatment plants and the large interceptor sewers throughout
the region. Each municipality owns its internal sewer system and is responsible
for it. The Metropolitan Council doesn’t have any responsibility for storm water.
That is the responsibility of each municipality. Saint Paul does not have a
storm water utility agency – he referred earlier to the storm water utility
charge. The sanitary sewers, the storm water sewers, and the flood wall control
are all the responsibility of the sewer utility manager.
Dr. Lue-Hing asked about the design of the system in Saint Paul and if he would
recommend the design outside his area. Mr. Puchreiter said they designed a storm
water system that would take a five-year rain storm – 3.6 inches in 24 hours.
Mike Mynhier of the PMT clarified Dr. Lue-Hing’s question by saying he was interested
in the two-tiered interceptors that had sanitary system flowing below and the
storm water above. That was an initiative by the Metropolitan Council, not by
Saint Paul. Mr. Pucheriter said it is not a design that he is totally in favor
of, but sometimes it has to be utilized. They recommended the pipe inside the
pipe because of extensive construction under freeways and other situations such
as a very deep combined sewer. They came up with a design that split the pipe
in half and a pipe for sanitary sewage went inside the storm water pipe. With
this there is always a danger of leakage from the sanitary sewer into the storm
sewer. That concept was only used in a few places.
Mr. Turner asked about disruptions involved in the program. Mr. Puchreiter
said that the program was much better then their highest expectations. It was
extremely difficult to schedule all the projects. They had to do it like a big
puzzle. The idea was to look at coordination with all the other agencies in
the city and look at traffic concerns. There was disruption, but it worked well.
He also said that when the city did its report on sewer separation and came
up with the cost of about $180 million over 10 years, it also recommended that
the city use the disruption as an opportunity to make improvements in the infrastructure.
They combined a street paving program and a water utility replacement program
with the sewer separation. They installed 150 miles of storm sewer, seven miles
of sanitary sewers, paved 168 miles of streets, installed about 26 miles of
water main, 238 miles of gas mains and replaced about 4,000 lead water sewers.
The utilities saw it as an opportunity since the streets were already ripped
up. They also installed about 7,000 new street lights and 11,000 new trees.
Next, Kevin Shafer, executive director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage
District, was contacted via conference call. He was the chief engineer for the
district from 1998 until March of 2002 and is now the executive director. In
the 1980’s the Milwaukee district was sued by the state of Illinois following
the adoption of the Clean Water Act because of overflows from Milwaukee’s combined
sewers into the rivers and Lake Michigan. Milwaukee averaged 8 million gallons
of overflows per year (between 50 and 60 overflows per year) into the rivers
and Lake Michigan. In the 1980’s they began designing a system to minimize the
overflows. Milwaukee has both a separate sewer system and a combined sewer system
– about 5 percent of the entire area has combined sewers (the entire area is
approximately 420 square miles). The system serves about 1.2 million people
(28 communities). The MMSD is a regional sewage agency. On a dry weather day
they have two treatment plants (South Shore and Jones Island) that handle about
100 million gallons per day each. That can spike up to almost triple that amount
on wet weather days.
Ms. Wheatley asked what alternatives they considered, what costs they were
looking at and how long it took to complete the construction program. Mr. Shafer
said they looked at separation of the combined sewer system and the tunnel system.
Cost estimates revealed that it would cost about $500 million more to separate
than to build a tunnel treatment system. He said that it came down to a decision
that separation would cause a huge economic blow to the city of Milwaukee because
of disruption and it would cost a half a billion dollars more as well. Based
on the design criteria, they determined that a tunnel system was the best way
Mr. Shafer reiterated that Milwaukee was experiencing 50 to 60 overflows per
year at the time the analysis was being conducted. At a conceptual level, they
estimated they would have 1.4 overflows per year after the tunnel. They have
operated their tunnel system since 1994 after starting construction in 1984
or 1985. The first five years of operating the tunnel system they averaged 1.4
overflows per year. The “1.4 overflows per year” figure was determined before
there was any state or federal guidance on how many overflows a system could
have. During the design of the system, the national CSO policy was adopted,
with six overflows per year as the guiding range. Since the tunnel has been
under operation, they have never exceeded the permitted level of six overflows
per year. They were at an average of 1.4 per year for the first five years;
in 1999, there were six overflows, and in 2000, there were five overflows (two
of the wettest years on record). In 2001, there were three overflows; there
have been two so far in 2002.
Dr. Clough asked about the geologic conditions in Milwaukee. Mr. Shafer said
there is primarily limestone below the ground in Milwaukee. The tunnel is 19.4
miles long and the diameter ranges from 12-feet to 30-feet; 45-50% is unlined.
It holds 400 to 500 million gallons. Milwaukee’s plants are brought to full
capacity during a wet weather event. Any flow that spills into the tunnel is
collected there and conveyed to a treatment plant. So, during a wet weather
event, once the tunnel gets to the 200 million gallon level – which is about
half full – they start looking at the weather radar to determine if the storm
is over. If the radar shows a major event still coming toward the city, they
would close the gate from the combined sewer system to the tunnel system and
have a combined sewer overflow at that point. They reserve that extra 200 million
gallons so that they don’t have a second sewer overflow.
Mr. Shafer said the cost of the system was $2.3 billion. Out of that, $705
million was the tunnel. They also had major improvements to the treatment plants,
all the connecting structures, and they also installed a control system. A recent
legislative audit found that, in the eight years of tunnel operation, there
was an improvement in water quality in the combined sewer area. The audit found
little or no improvement in the separated sewer area. The auditors said that
urban runoff is still a major pollutant. They have had 13.5 billion gallons
of overflow in eight years – they used to have 8 billion gallons per year –
and of those 13.5 billion gallons, about 92 or 93 percent of that has been targeted
CSO allowances, and the majority of that overflow is permitted. They have had
12.6 billion gallons of combined sewer overflow since 1994 and the water quality
in the combined sewer area has improved. That tells you that the pollutants
in the overflow are much lower than they were before. An analysis showed that
BOD, TSS, and fecal coliform have all been reduced by at least 91 percent since
the tunnel went online.
Mr. Marcotte asked about the operation and maintenance experience of the tunnels
and the cost associated with “running” the tunnels. Mr. Shafer said they do
not go into the tunnels to clean them because they are 300 feet deep. They operated
the system without ever entering it until February 2001. At that time they dropped
cameras into the tunnel to see how it looked upstream and downstream. The original
O&M plan called for them to go into the tunnel every five years. At the
beginning of this year – year eight of operation – they sent a cleaning crew
into the tunnel system who also took video. During the inspection, they found
a very clean tunnel except for some small pockets of fine sediment in some locations,
but they believed that sediment was just washing through. They found one rock
the size of a basketball that had fallen and that was the only structural change
found in the system. When the system was designed, they estimated infiltration
to be about 4.8 million gallons per day – this is not a totally lined system.
When they inspected this fall, they found about 2.7 million gallons, so the
infiltration to the tunnel is about half of what they expected it to be. When
looking at the video of the inspection, they noticed that the cracks in the
tunnel wall were calcified over so it had done a self-healing process. They
did not see any major change in the structure. One issue that has been raised
is exfiltration from the tunnel system. When the tunnel was designed they expected
there to be a stronger inflow current from the surrounding groundwater than
there would be from exfiltration in the tunnel. After the tunnel was online
they started to see, during a major tunnel event when it was filled to the brim,
e-coli in the monitoring data. The e-coli went away quickly when they started
pumping the tunnel down. They hired a consultant from Boston to do their groundwater
monitoring and they determined that if the tunnel system is overflowed, they
do get exfiltration from the tunnel, but once they pump the tunnel down, it
infiltrates back into the tunnel. That is why the e-coli numbers were going
up and down. Since that determination was made they have modified the operation
procedure so they do not fill the tunnel more than the highest point of the
crown of the tunnel. Some modeling was done for the worst case scenario with
a full tunnel for two full days and it showed that the bacteria counts would
go back down in three to five days. They have stopped overflowing the tunnel.
Dr. Lue-Hing asked Mr. Shafer if the tunnel was functioning the way it was
designed. Mr. Shafer said the tunnel was designed to minimize overflows to the
waterways. The system has come from an average of 50 or 60 overflows per year
to an average of 2.6 and the water quality has improved because of that. Mr.
Shafer said he believes the tunnel has operated as it was designed and that
it has done a very good job. He said the tunnel needs to operate a while before
you can see major improvements in some of the other areas.
Dr. Clough then thanked Mr. Shafer for his help and introduced the next presentation
from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Bill Stanley, who jointly chairs the Chamber’s Atlanta CSO/SSO Business
Task Force with A.J. Robinson, is a partner in the architecture firm of Stanley,
Love-Stanley P.C. He was aided in the presentation by Mark Baumgartner of the
Boston Consulting Group.
(The audio portion of the meeting is unavailable through almost one-third of
Mr. Stanley’s presentation. The following notes were derived from his PowerPoint
The Task Force was led jointly by The Boston Consulting Group and the Metro
Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. It included participation from the Mayor’s Office
and the Atlanta Wastewater System Improvement Program management team. The recommendations
of the task force will focus on successful funding, implementation, and communication
of whatever plan is chosen. Mr. Stanley emphasized that the task force is not
passing judgment on the best technical plan to fix Atlanta’s CSOs – they are
not the technical experts.
The task force is primarily interested in maintaining a vibrant economy and
a high quality of life for Atlanta’s businesses and residents, both of which
are seriously threatened by Atlanta’s sewer challenges. He contends that the
City must select and implement a plan that will work and achieve the greatest
long-term benefit for the least cost. The City cannot afford to gamble on possibilities
Mr. Stanley showed a chart of planned sewer and water expenditures of $3.6
billion by 2015, which he says extends well beyond the CSO consent decree requirements.
This spending puts Atlanta in a unique situation compared with other cities
because Atlanta has a small ratepayer base, the lowest per capita income, but
the highest projected cost and the shortest expected construction period. Atlanta
is under a consent decree to fix a problem in a very short time period. He stated
that, based on these unique constraints, there were no truly comparable cities.
It has been estimated that sewer rates must triple by 2014 to fund this project;
the impact to residents and businesses will be substantial. The average monthly
bill for a resident now is $40 per month. It will be $120 by 2014. The average
industrial user’s bill now is $1,510 per month. It will increase to $4,530 per
month. These high rates will continue for at least another 30 years to 2044.
Atlanta is already at the high end of the sewer rate spectrum when compared
to other cities. Mr. Stanley emphasized that cost does matter and that includes
the cost of operating, maintaining, complying, future regulations, indirect
costs, and all the unknown costs. He said that time also matters because there
are five years to get this done. Atlanta has already paid tens of millions of
dollars in fines and that is just money wasted.
He said that we must be realistic about tunnels – miles of tunnels that will
be hundreds of feet under the ground. This is a massive project with a lot of
risks, potential delays and cost fluctuations. He said the panel heard from
Milwaukee earlier about some of the challenges of tunnels. We must consider
those as well as those from other regions. Atlanta relies on 98 percent surface
water and only 2 percent is groundwater. He said that needs to be compared to
Milwaukee because Atlanta doesn’t have to worry about leakage and infiltration
of the groundwater. He said the Chamber is not picking on tunnels – we have
to be realistic about everything.
He said we have to be realistic about ponds too. “Will we build duck ponds
or muck ponds? What will be in the ponds?” He said that it is a very difficult
issue to deal with. It’s very difficult to make people feel comfortable about
spending $1 billion on a sewer system that is underground and they can’t see.
Atlanta’s first priority is to fix the sewer, but he doesn’t want us to ignore
other opportunities to make physical improvements where it makes sense. He encouraged
the Panel to make any recommendations they may have on this topic. Physical
improvements will help rally the public to support this issue.
Mr. Stanley asked the Panel to consider what this construction means to a business
or neighborhood. They must consider all the costs to the business and residents
– not just the cost of construction. Those costs include road closings and traffic
jams, business interruption with no access, neighborhood disruption and noise,
and the risk of unforeseen costs and delays.
He said that we also have to consider future water quality requirements. There
is a court order that we cannot forget. Georgia is one of 38 states that have
been sued because of TMDLs and one of about 20 states under a court order.
He said that over 80 percent of the quality water impairments in this region
are because of non-point pollutants. Implementation of these pollutant budgets
will require a higher treatment of storm water. Mr. Stanley said there are significant
economic and other ramifications that follow whatever technical decision is
made. The Atlanta business community and homeowner community has a sizable stake
in whatever decisions are made. The Chamber’s message is to choose a plan that
keeps our quality of life high and all costs low. They ask the Panel to consider
“what can be done in our short timeframe, be realistic about what we’re going
to get for the price, disclose the risks associated with each plan, account
for indirect costs such as “construction disruption” and ongoing operation and
maintenance costs, and choose a plan that minimizes the cost of meeting water
quality regulations both now and in the future.”
Mr. Baumgartner from the Boston Consulting Group discussed lobbying for federal
funds. He said that Atlanta needs to demonstrate to the federal government that
it is taking steps and making progress in attacking the timeline aggressively.
He asked the Panel to choose a plan that that shows some quick wins and that
we are making progress to the ultimate goals.
Mr. Marcotte asked what the Chamber’s position would be on a system that might
get some of the costs to deal with the CSO problem from heavily paved areas
– knowing that’s more likely to fall on businesses. Mr. Stanley said the Chamber
knows that a lot of its members have large parking lots all over Metro Atlanta.
He said there may be some wisdom in levying a tax for bringing the car into
town and parking it on that surface. That may be something the Chamber would
consider, but it won’t be very popular.
Regarding technology preferences, Mr. Baumgartner said that they are interested
in technology to the extent that it drives cost. They would like to know, in
addition to construction costs, how various plans compare on operations and
Ms. Wheatley asked how they can capture the cost of disruption to businesses.
Mr. Stanley said you have to “get out in front of the problem.” Disruption is
a cost of making improvements, but it is lost income. They have to talk to people
early on so they know what their options are. Mr. Baumgartner said that they
have not done enough analysis yet to understand the impact. They have anecdotal
evidence from other cities.
Mr. Turner asked if they had given any consideration to the use of a local
option sales tax so it doesn’t have to all be rate-based. Mr. Stanley said that
is certainly a possibility and it needs to be discussed. Mr. Baumgartner said
they are looking at a whole host of options and they are in the process of looking
at a sales tax.
Next was a presentation on storm water management by Steve Sheets of HDR/WLJ,
who is part of the design team putting together a storm water quality plan for
Atlanta. He said that storm water management has evolved quite a bit since the
beginning of the century, when you put it in the pipe and it went away. Today,
urban storm water is not ready to go back into the stream yet. We have to capture
that water and treat it before it goes back into the creeks – getting rid of
hydrocarbon, salts, metals, etc.
They have been pursing two basic philosophies in this process. One is the QMF
plan (formerly know as the BMP plan), the water quality plan (put together by
HDR/WLJ), which focuses solely on pulling out pollutants. There is another plan
going forward under TOC’s direction and that is referred to as the greenways
plan. That plan takes water quality improvement and enhances it further to incorporate
Storm water management technology falls into two categories – nonstructural
(measures aimed at preventing the pollution from getting into the runoff such
as ordinances, zoning and planning restrictions, general housekeeping like street
sweeping) and structural (those steps taken after the pollution is in the runoff
but before it hits the creek). The QMF plan has storm water ponds. Wet ponds
were chosen because because dry detention ponds don’t achieve much in the way
of benefits. Micropools, ano9ther form of wet detention pond, are small pools
with large overbanks that can be developed for other uses. Bioretention areas
– sometimes referred to as rain gardens – are BMPs that capture storm water
and are good for moderate, level areas of drainage. These bioretention areas
are good for side construction next to parking decks and parking lots. There
are also other structural measures like sand filters. These are great for small
drainage areas and highly impervious areas. Enhanced swales, like bioretention
zones, are good for site construction along roadways and other large impervious
They primarily considered three engineering factors when putting together their
plan. The first is hydrology and hydraulics – that is, how much runoff they
will be dealing with, where that water is going to go once it hits the ground
and how much we are going to try to capture and treat. The second aspect is
land use and development density – what is the character of your drainage basin?
What is putting the pollution in the groundwater and what is causing the runoff?
From that you determine what type of QMF is needed. The third is available space.
Where is it going to be? What is the immediate area land use?
For hydrology/hydraulics, they opted to address the first flush – the first
1.2 inches of rainfall in any rain event. They defined the flow path using topography
maps and considered the current storm water system that is in place today. Their
goal is an 80 percent reduction in total suspended solids. That is an ARC guideline.
It is a general rule that if you can get an 80 percent reduction, you are going
to meet water quality goals.
Land use and development density were evaluated using aerial photos of the
basins and actual visits to the sites. In highly commercial areas they went
for underground features like sand filters. In residential areas they went for
ponds, and in right-of-ways, they are thinking about retention zones. The QMF
is sized based on how much runoff you are going to have and what kind of development
you have in your basin. Then they looked in that immediate area to see what
land was available. They ranked naked lands first, inactive but developed, next,
then residential/commercial and parks. The QMF plan says to keep them out of
the parks because Atlanta has so little park space and we can’t afford to give
So far they have developed 10 QMF plans. The PowerPoint presentation showed
an example of the Greensferry Basin. It includes underground features, bioretention
zones, ponds and micropools. They went for 80 percent coverage of the basin
which means that they kept things small and scattered with small QMFs throughout
the basin. That keeps the treatment next to the point of generation and it keeps
them small, which means you are more likely to find a vacant or low level usage
property to put it on.
Quality of life issues also have to be taken into effect. This plan has to
be part of the larger, bigger plan. These quality of life issues include connecting
a basin-wide system, amenities like parks and trails and restoring above ground
streamways, smart growth planning around these features, getting rid of eyesores,
and flooding reduction by using larger catch basins.
Mr. Sheets then asked Quentin Remy, an architect with TOC (a PMT consultant
team member), to speak about greenways planning. Mr. Remy said that one of TOC’s
tasks was to “oversight” the approach that Steve Sheets just explained. TOC
also trailed behind HDR/WLJ at Greensferry and studied the basin with respect
to a greensway approach.
The greenways approach is a series of above-ground features and the vacated
combined sewer pipe that is collecting, detaining, treating and retaining a
great deal of the water coming through the basin – which today is not collected.
The approach calls for a few bigger ponds in the basin instead of the multiple
ponds Mr. Sheets spoke of. It consolidates the storm water features and by doing
so, costs are allocated in other ways for the greenways project. In that regard,
they have attempted to develop a connection linking greenspaces through the
Greensferry watershed. Part of a larger plan for downtown Atlanta shows how
park space could be connected. The current start of a greenways plan addresses
non-point source pollution.
Mr. Remy said that parks are an integral part of the plan. Atlanta has only
3 percent of its gross land area as greenspace, which is the smallest of any
metropolitan area in the United States. Through the treatment of storm water,
looked at in a creative way, there is an opportunity to increase the greenspace
while we are dealing with storm water. They have designed their plans with the
understanding that they will not deduct the amount of greenspace that is currently
available. In fact, they would add to it. Park replacement is one of their line
Mr. Remy showed charts, photos and drawings of what “could be” in Greensferry.
They haven’t looked at any of the other basins yet. They have two major concerns
with this approach – the future availability and accessibility of sites and
the commitment to operating the system and maintaining it. Greensferry is approximately
700 acres and is located on the West side of the city. Their water collection
method in Greensferry would be through abandonment and replacement of catch
basins. They would be capturing surface drainage, but they would detain it to
get it into the system. The system won’t hold a 10-year flood, but the greenways
will have adequate capacity to retain that amount of water.
In answering a question from Mr. Turner about costs, Joe Basista said they
are farther ahead on refining capital costs then they are on the O&M of
storm water management and sewer separation. They intend to customize it for
their latest sewer separation and storm water management plans and they will
get that information to the Panel prior to the next meeting.
Dr. Lue-Hing asked the presenters to clarify if the ponds were flow-through
ponds or detention ponds. Mr. Remy answered that they do have draw-down pipes
to lower the level of the pond. Dr. Lue- Hing also asked about the holding capacity
of the ponds once they are all built. Mr. Remy said the detention is based on
a 10-year flood (a 10 percent chance of it occurring in any given year), which
amounts to 5 percent of gross land area. If the rainfall is more than the capacity
of the pond, they have overflow structures that would take the excess back to
storm water pipes rather than holding it and flooding the neighborhood.
Ms. Wheatley asked if implementation of this plan would reduce existing flooding
conditions in the areas discussed. Mr. Remy said you will get either detention
or flooding. It is a matter of making a choice of where you want it to happen
versus keeping it away from areas where it might go into people’s homes. The
plan now is when you get rain, it will run in the streets to the curbs and the
catch basins. They plan to put restrictors on the catch basins so water won’t
be allowed to rush in and flood in uncontrolled areas. They will be able to
control where the water comes to the curbs until it has time to get into the
system and to the ponds. He said this will improve street flooding because they
will be able to regulate where the flooding will happen and at what level it
will happen because the catch basins will have the regulators.
Mr. Turner asked about mosquito concerns in the ponds. Mr. Remy responded that
they would stock the ponds with a species of fish that eat mosquito larvae –
like those already in the ponds at the Carter Center.
The next item on the agenda was a report from Mike Mynhier of the PMT, Greg
Giornelli of the Mayor’s Office and Andrew Harris of Georgia Tech regarding
visits they made to Saint Paul, Minnesota, Nashville, Tennessee and Austin,
Texas from August 7 -10 to learn about those cities’ recent experiences with
sewer separation and storm water management programs.
They visited Minneapolis/Saint Paul first and met with the general manager
of the Wastewater Services Division of the Metropolitan Council of Environmental
Services (MCES). MCES is the regional provider of water and serves about 103
municipalities. The Council’s main goal in separation was to provide separation
of the interceptors that remove the wastewater from the city. The overall program
was about $395 million. Of that, MCES spent about $102 million separating interceptors
and the remaining $293 million was incurred by Saint Paul ($217), Minneapolis
($67 million) and South Saint Paul ($9 million).
Mr. Mynhier said an impressive aspect of Saint Paul’s program was the streetscaping
and coordinating the separation with other improvements – street lights, tree
planting, etc. It was a $217 million program that was accomplished in 10 years.
The concept was to take sewers that were less than 36 inches in diameter and
turn those into sanitary sewers; those larger than 36 inches would remain storm
sewers. They broke the project into about 100 individual design construction
projects and did about 10 projects per year. The sewer work was generally shallow
– from 5 to 15 feet deep. Although it is not a comprehensive program, they have
done some storm water management in the area. For instance, in areas where they
could not do anything about the flooding, they created a park that can be used
during dry weather. There were both wet and dry detention areas.
The next visit was to the city of Austin. They talked about the Central Park
project that the Panel saw as part of a presentation during its second meeting.
A storm water utility was established in 1993 and has generated about $12 million
($1 to $1.5 million per year), of which $7 to $8 million has been encumbered
for specific projects. They have 14 storm water management ponds in the urban
drainage area (one of those in the downtown urban core) that they have developed
in the last 10 years.
They have done a combination of sand filters and some wet retention ponds.
The Central Park project is a 20 or so acre site that has been developed and
includes a 4 to 5 acre treatment pond. It also includes greenspace, recreation,
shopping, apartments and a hospital. The project was a partnership between the
city, the state and the developer.
In addition to their storm water utility, Austin also raised funds through
an Urban Development Construction Fund. When a developer comes in with a project,
they have the option to either provide some sort of storm water remediation
or pay a fee to this fund. Currently more developers pay into the fund than
not, so they are readjusting those fees to encourage developers to provide storm
Officials from Austin say that this type of program takes a while and that
they have had to be opportunistic in the way they implement projects and take
advantage of land as it becomes available.
The team’s final visit was to Nashville. Nashville is undertaking an overflow
abatement program to address both SSOs and CSOs. It is an $850 million program
– about 54 percent for SSO abatement and about $384 million for CSO abatement.
The combined sewer service area is between 5,000 and 6,000 acres and they expect
that, when completed, the program will separate about 40 percent of the combined
service area. The remaining 60 percent will be handled through storage and treatment.
Their design criteria are eight overflows per year.
They visited the Demonbreun CSO basin. It is a 700 acre site. City officials
wanted to get the big sewer improvements done before the new arena and football
stadium were built, so they separated that 700 acres in about two years. They
used a different approach then they had previously heard about in Saint Paul.
They had the design engineer develop drawings, they went to the state for approvals,
and then turned the drawings over to the contractor. They followed that process
for each phase, then they would start to construct that phase. They believe
the benefit of that was having the contractor assume responsibility for unforeseen
things that inevitably happen.
The Nashville project (about 88,000 linear feet of piping) was quite a bit
smaller than what we have in Atlanta, but they did it for about $24 million
in construction costs.
Mr. Mynhier said overall they were very well received on each of their visits
and everyone was very helpful and more than willing to share information. He
has a draft written report but it is not finalized.
Mr. Turner asked about contacting Boston regarding its program. Mr. Mynhier
said he made phone contacts with someone from Boston and also talked to someone
from Portland, Oregon about their situation and he has written notes regarding
both of those conversations that he will share with the Panel.
Mr. Mynhier reported that David Kubiak from Boston said they have a $620 million
CSO program – about 25 projects make that up – that includes hydraulic relief,
storage and pump stations, sewer separation, and CSO treatment. It is a 10-year
program scheduled to be completed in 2008. About $210 million of the $620 million
is for sewer separation in local communities. They have had some interesting
happenings in some of their projects such as a sewer separation project that
was much more difficult then initially thought so they now have to look at other
In Portland, Oregon, they have a $1 billion program. They serve about 300,000
of the City’s 530,000 residents in the combined sewer system. They have a combination
plan as well, with about $190 million for sewer separation, $670 million for
storage and treatment, and $145 million for improvements to the Columbia Slough.
The separation will separate seven basins, which is about 25 percent of the
combined sewer area. Their downtown was separated about 20 years ago so most
of the combined sewers are in residential areas. Their storage and treatment
includes two large tunnels – one is about four miles in length and 14 feet in
diameter and the other is about four or five miles in length and 14 to 17 feet
in diameter. Portland is seeing a pretty severe financial impact with this program.
Sewer rates will go from about $11.40 per month in 1999 to $66 per month in
Ms. Wheatley, acting as chair, said that Dr. Clough and others had questions
regarding the cost of land for the greenway program, so Dr. Clough had contacted
the Urban Land Institute, which in turn contacted the Appraisal Institute, to
assist in getting realistic land costs. Dr. Henry Wise of the Appraisal Institute
was invited to speak for a few minutes about what they will do to help pin down
some land costs.
Dr. Wise said the Appraisal Institute was asked to provide some advice on some
of the land costs that the PMT had been working with – under the assumption
that land will be required whether talking about the separation process or storm
water drainage abatement. He believes that within the Greensferry basin, they
should be able to put together a team to go out to the site and look at the
types of land that have been identified as land that might be required. With
the information from the PMT, appraisal information and appraisal volunteers,
they will try to make some judgment about the valuation issues for the specific
types of property that we are speaking about within the Greensferry basin.
Regarding overall costs, Mr. Turner said that they need to have something that
can be used to compare the costs of the options and alternatives. Ms. Wheatley
asked Mr. Giornelli if the City is looking at independent verification of the
costs. He said that the City needs to have 100 percent confidence in the costs
estimates, so they are looking at that. He said that it may make sense for the
Panel to ask an independent group to verify costs.
Mr. Basista said that right now there are two sources of cost data – one is
the pre-design consultants who are hired independently of the program team.
The program management team is reviewing those costs and independently developing
a parallel set of costs. He said those costs are tracking pretty well right
now. He said that if the Panel wants another estimate, he thinks the PMT should
have a “hands off” approach so they would not supervise the reviewer.
Mr. Basista said that they will have construction and capital costs refined,
O&M costs refined, water quality data for each of the refinement options,
some opinions of the schedule required for those options, and quality of life
comparisons by the next meeting.
The last meeting is scheduled for September 13. A brief public session will
be held from 9:30 AM until 11:30 AM and the Panel will go into private session
after that to write the report. There are no presentations planned for the next
With that, the meeting was adjourned.