Health Department: EPA has signed off on Allegheny County wet weather plan
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a long-awaited plan for managing storm water issues, Allegheny County Health Department officials announced Wednesday during a Board of Health meeting.
The details of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority’s Wet Weather Plan, which has been in the works since a 2008 consent decree from the EPA mandated that the sewage plant bring storm water infrastructure into compliance, will be released on Sept. 19, said Jim Kelly, deputy director of environmental health.
A Sept. 19 press conference will be the first time details of the plan — which has previously been priced at over $2 billion — will be made available to the public. A 60-day public comment period and meetings with municipal officials will follow, Kelly said.
“The municipalities that are affected by this, they are the ones that are going to have to incorporate these changes,” he said.
Alcosan serves much of Allegheny County. Joseph Vallarian, a spokesperson for Alcosan, declined to comment on details of the plan or the press conference.
“I can’t say anything,” Vallarian said Thursday. “The federal government has asked us to keep everything confidential.”
The consent decree issued by the EPA in 2008 required Alcosan to update infrastructure in order to prevent sewage and stormwater overflow into waterways.
An early draft of the plan, priced at $3.6 billion, was rejected by the EPA for being too costly. By 2015, progress on the plan continued to slow even as Alcosan raised rates to pay for the plan, which at the time was projected to cut 9 billion gallons of wastewater overflow to between 4 and 5 billion gallons by 2026.
Alcosan is funded primarily by ratepayers.
Alcosan was also previously working to renegotiate the plan to include more green infrastructure and flexibility to alter the plan as wastewater technology improves.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .