Sunday, March 7, 2004

MSD aids residents with backups

Dan Klepal's Feb. 22 article "Sewage spewing into our waterways" discusses a problem that communities across the nation, including Hamilton County, face: sewage overflows. Locally, we have an aging sewer system, parts of which date to the early 1800s, and an ever-increasing need for greater capacity. During heavy rains, sections can fill up with too much water for it to handle; excess storm and waste water may be released into the environment. Waste water can back up into homes and businesses. The Metropolitan Sewer District is committed to address these issues while keeping costs feasible for ratepayers.

As Klepal states, the sewer district has been working with federal and state agencies for seven years to negotiate an agreement through which sewer overflows and basement backups can be addressed, and keep the associated costs affordable for our customers. The consent decree sets forth a detailed schedule for making necessary improvements to the system and includes penalties should that schedule not be met.

Per the decree, improvements to our sewer system will be made over 18 years, but we've already begun making progress. One example is the new Water-In-Basement Response Program. It provides cleanup assistance to customers who experience backups caused by the public sewer system, and includes reimbursements for damage caused by the backups. It also enables MSD to install measures to prevent backups from happening again at qualifying properties.

Since the program was launched Jan. 1, MSD has helped more than 120 residents to clean up backups. Damage claims have been awarded for backups that occurred early this year, and we continue to process claims as they come in. We've also begun working with eligible property owners to begin installing backflow prevention devices, pumping systems and other measures to prevent future backups. Our goal is no more basement backups - period.

The Metropolitan Sewer District will continue to address sewer overflow issues with the same tenacity with which we are addressing basement backups. As a public utility funded by ratepayers, however, it is our obligation to address these issues in a manner which our community can financially support.

For more information about the consent decree and the Water-In-Basement Response Program, visit our Web site at www.msdgc.org, or call (513) 352-4900.

Patrick Karney, Director, Metropolitan, Sewer District

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