by David Martin
Flushing a toilet is about to get really expensive.
Finalizing an agreement with the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, has agreed to spend $2.5 billion upgrading its sewer system. The work will begin in 2014.
Karl Brooks, the regional administrator of the EPA, announced the consent decree on Tuesday at the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center, near the occasionally foul-smelling Brush Creek. Calling the agreement a "landmark commitment," Brooks said Kansas City was about to embark on the largest infrastructure project in its history.
The work needs to be done because of the untreated sewage that tends to find its way into streams and rivers during storms. The EPA says Kansas City's overflows discharge annually 7 billion gallons of raw sewage into local streams and rivers.
Under the agreement, the city will pay a penalty of $600,000 and spend an additional $1.6 million to get people off septic tanks.
The 420-square-mile system serves 650,000 people in Kansas City and surrounding communities. Ratepayers can expect to pay the bulk of the $2.5 billion cost over 25 years. That's $100 million a year to send stuff out of homes and businesses without making the Clean Water Act sad.