Faced with implementing a $2 billion sewer overflow project, ALCOSAN is turning to the community for help. It is hosting a series of community discussions focusing on the issue that affects all 83 municipalities under ALCOSAN.
In 2008 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a consent decree which requires the agency to create a plan to fix sewer overflow in the region.
“The job ahead of us, which is correcting the sewer overflows, affects everyone, and it’s going to take every one of us to fix it,” Jeanne Clark, ALCOSAN public information officer, said. “We want citizens throughout the region to be a part of this, and help us move forward on this very large public water quality project that we’re about to undertake.”
According to Clark, the sewer overflow is a big issue in older cities, and the consequences include over-treated drinking water and dirty rivers.
To fix this, she said they plan on using both “green” and “grey” technology. Gray technology refers to the traditional use of pipes and sewers. Green technology involves everything from porous pavements to reduce runoff to drainage ditches to mitigate pollutants in runoff from highways, farms and commercial areas.
But Clark said many people don’t fully understand the sewer systems, and ALCOSAN officials want these discussions to help shed some light.
“We want to make sure that everybody understands exactly how the system works,” Clark said. “We’ve found out that a lot of people have some misunderstandings so we’re going to hope to let people know and in language they can understand.”
She said the project will not be done until at least 2026, but the process will impact a lot of people.
“When we go into the fix, in many cases we will have communities that are dealing with construction,” Clark said. “This is the first part to setting up community groups so that they have an input into how that construction affects their lives and what they want the top to look like when we’re done with all the construction.”
The community discussions are on Wednesday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and then from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. as well as Thursday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.