Unified Government (UG) of Kansas City, Kansas

(WASHINGTON D.C. - March 22, 2013) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the Unified Government of Wyandotte Co. and Kansas City, Kan., has agreed to a settlement to address unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage and to reduce pollution levels in urban stormwater.

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Overview of Municipality

The Unified Government (UG) of Kansas City, Kansas is responsible for management of its sanitary sewer system, which includes both combined and separate sewer systems. UG is also responsible for management of its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). Under NPDES permits, UG operates five wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) and the MS4.

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The United States alleges the following violations against UG: 1) unauthorized discharge of sewage from the sanitary sewer system (both the combined sanitary sewers (CSS) and separate sanitary sewers (SSS)); 2) dry weather overflows from the CSS; 3) failure to properly maintain and operate the sewer system in accordance with the standard condition in the NPDES permit; and, 4) violation of the MS4 NPDES permit.

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Injunctive Relief

The purpose of the Consent Decree is to fulfill the objectives of the Clean Water Act (Act) and achieve full compliance with the Act by achieving full compliance with the NPDES permits, eliminating separate sanitary overflows (SSOs) and unauthorized combined sewer overflows (CSOs), eliminating prohibited bypasses and implementation of the stormwater management program to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the MS4 to the maximum extent practicable. The injunctive relief outlined in the Consent Decree represents the development of an Integrated Overflow Control Plan (IOCP) to remedy SSOs and CSOs as well as the implementation of other injunctive relief as summarized below. Because this Consent Decree covers only the development of the remedy, the parties to the Consent Decree recognize that there will be a future modification that will implement the IOCP.

Under the terms of the settlement, UG will implement a number of remedial measures, including:

  • Information Management System - UG will develop a system to efficiently and effectively identify, track, operate, maintain, manage and plan for UG’s wastewater and stormwater programs.
  • Storm Sewer System - UG agreed to implement a newly revised Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP).
  • Combined and Separate Sewer Systems - Under the Consent Decree, UG committed to conduct the short-term construction projects valued at approximately $20 million. UG also committed to improve their:
    • Fats, Oil and Grease Control Program Plan (FOG);
    • Collection System Release Response Plan (CSRRP);
    • Nine Minimum Controls Plan (NMCP) for the Combined Sewer System. 
    • In addition, UG agreed to submit a comprehensive Capacity, Management, Operations and Maintenance (CMOM) Program Plan.
  • Evaluation of Sewersheds - UG will submit a Sewer System Evaluation Work Plan, which will describe how UG will evaluate, analyze, model, develop alternatives and include public participation for the evaluation of the SSS and CSS.
    • UG will develop a dynamic hydraulic model of the SSS and CSS to help assess the capacity of the SSS system and evaluate CSO control scenarios for the CSS system. Using the hydraulic model, UG will develop and evaluate remedial alternatives, including green infrastructure, to ensure adequate capacity in the CSS, SSS and the WWTPs.
    • Using the information from the SSS Characterization Report and the CSS Characterization Report, UG will submit an IOCP by September 30, 2016. The IOCP will contain a LTCP for the CSS and a remedial plan for the SSS.

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Implementation of the Integrated Overflow Control Plan (IOCP)

Once the IOCP and the selected alternatives are approved, UG agrees to modify the Consent Decree to incorporate the IOCP as an enforceable part of the Consent Decree.

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Penalties Obtained

UG has agreed to defer a civil penalty until the modification of the Consent Decree to implement the approved IOCP.

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Environmental Justice

Significant portions of UG’s service area have environmental justice concerns. Approximately 34% of the households have an income less than $25,000. The median household income is approximately $36,000 for the city while nationally, it is approximately $50,000.

The injunctive relief outlined in the Consent Decree focuses on areas where there are environmental justice concerns. Almost all of the work under ongoing construction activities is focused in the eastern third of the city where environmental justice concerns are the most serious.

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Green Infrastructure

The Consent Decree provides that UG will consider green infrastructure (GI) as part of the SSS and CSS control alternatives under the IOCP. UG will, at a minimum, identify and prioritize areas that are suitable for the development of GI control measures. UG may select a pilot project(s) to evaluate the effectiveness of the GI measure to reduce overflows. If a pilot project is selected, UG will conduct post-construction monitoring to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the GI control measure. UG may propose to replace or supplement gray controls with GI controls during IOCP implementation with EPA approval.

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For more information, contact:

Ben Bahk
Water Enforcement Division
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW (Mail Code 2243A)
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-4293

Kris Lancaster
Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
11201 Renner Blvd.
Lenexa, Kansas 66219

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