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Sanitary and storm sewers to be discussed at Decatur City Council study session

On Monday, October 12 at 5:30 PM, the Decatur City Council will be having a study session focusing on storm water and sanitary sewers in the city.  In the last decade, Decatur has spent ~$22.9 million rehabilitating its largest sewers and the estimated costs of future priority projects are ~$29.3 million.  This study session will help establish priorities and policies associated with the sewer system. 

Decatur has approximately 424 miles of sanitary sewers of which ~40% are combined storm water and sanitary sewage.  Since 2010, the city has spent $22.9 million rehabilitating 4 of the 5 largest diameter sewer pipes with the 5th sewer in possible need of improvements. 

On October 15, 2015, the city entered into an agreement (i.e., Administrative Consent Order) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that requires the city to improve its system such that sewer overflows and private property backups are eliminated.  It is estimated that the improvements will cost ~$29.3 million. 

Money to pay for such projects comes from the Sewer Fund ($3.1 million in projected revenue in 2020) and General Fund ($1.6 million in 2020).  Currently, debt service for the sewer enhancements is $1.4 million per year, but it is expected to increase to ~$3 million per year if all the sewer improvements are made.  It is unclear how yearly maintenance, additional capital projects, and debt service to the sewer system can be achieved without continued rate increases. 

The city council will also be examining the storm sewer system as well.  There are over 216 miles of storm sewers and ~8,700 catch basins in the city.  Storm sewers that malfunction or are under-capacity can overflow, causing flooding and property damage including water in basements.  In 2014, the city council approved a dedicated funding source to address storm sewer issues.  The Stormwater Fund has ~$1.6 million in revenue annually.  Of the $1.6 million, ~$500,000 is available for capital improvements.  Thus, funding is currently not available to support large-scale storm sewer system enhancements. 

Finally, in addition to improving the sanitary and storm sewers that we currently have, many parts of the city have unsewered areas.  The city will be identifying unsewered areas, establishing priorities for building more sewers, and estimating costs. 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE STUDY SESSION IS AVAILABLE ONLINE - An agenda and background information to the city council meeting can be found at:

CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS – If you would like to discuss the upcoming meeting or any other issue with a city council member, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for each council member can be found at the following link:

CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND MEETINGS AND EXPRESS THEIR VIEWS – Citizens are allotted 3 minutes per person at the end of the city council study session.  Meetings take place at the Theater located on the second floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place).  Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance. 

Horn for Decatur
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