WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Keokuk To Sign Sewer Consent Decree

Keokuk, IA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants cities like Burlington, Fort Madison, and Keokuk to separate their combined sanitary/storm-water sewer systems. The agency says overflow from these systems is impacting the Mississippi River.

Fort Madison is working with the EPA on a pilot program that treats the overflow before it reaches the river. Burlington has already started working on a mandated timeline for the sewer separation.

Keokuk, on the other hand, has been fighting the EPA mandate. The city says the overflow is not having the impact on the river that the EPA feels is taking place.

That is why Keokuk has not signed a consent decree from the EPA. The document lays out a course of action to resolve the sewer issue and the potential penalties for not complying.

Mayor Tom Marion says Keokuk will no longer be able to ignore the document. He says the EPA says the city faces a $5,000/day fine if the decree is not signed next week.

Marion says the city wants to have time to conduct tests on the overflow. The goal is to reduce the scope of the project.

Negotiations on the final language of the consent decree will continue. A spokesperson for the EPA could not comment on Keokuk's document, citing the ongoing negotiations.

Marion says, if the entire separation project is required, it could cost Keokuk $75-million to $100-million. He says the city should have 30-years to complete this, as opposed to the 17-years proposed by the EPA.