Keokuk Must Decide To Continue Sewer Work

Keokuk, IA – Keokuk operates a combined sewer system. There is one pipe used for both sanitary and storm-water discharge.

The system dumps overflow material into the Mississippi River during heavy rain. The federal government wants Keokuk, and many other cities up and down the river, to separate its system to avoid the overflow into the river.

Keokuk says separating its entire system would cost around $75-million. That figure is in current dollars and does not take into account future construction inflation.

The city is asking for the scope of the project to be scaled back. Keokuk also wants 30 years to do the required work.

The city is working towards those goals by running tests of the Mississippi River during rain and hiring a group of lawyers to show the overflow is not negatively impacting the river. Mayor Dave Gudgel has also refused to sign a pledge to do the work, despite the threat of jail time and hefty fines.

Consultant Ted Payseur says the new city leaders must decide whether to continue the fight. He says the best case scenario, for Keokuk, would be that the scope of the sewer project is reduced.

Payseur says the worst case would be that Keokuk has 17 years to complete the project.

Burlington has already signed the pledge to do the separation work. Fort Madison will establish a disinfection system to see if it can avoid the costs associated with separation.