Henrietta Locklear, Vice President, Raftelis Financial Consultants
Brandon Vatter, Senior Manager, Raftelis Financial Consultants
Many utilities are legally challenged to address water quality impairments through major infrastructure projects, sometimes investing billions to achieve compliance. The cost of compliance can rapidly skyrocket, becoming unaffordable. Common questions that utility managers must ask are: 1. How do I prioritize projects with limited budget? 2. How do I leverage capital for our overflow control program to also address urban pollution? 3. If I spend $10 million on a project, how many more days of instream water quality improvement will I get? What if I spend $100 million and see no water quality improvement? The 2019 Water Infrastructure Improvement Act added to the Clean Water Act (CWA) helps utilities answer these questions. Integrated Watershed Management (IWM) provides an affordable strategy to address multiple sources of pollution and CWA obligations. IWM can result in more affordable capital programs, more water quality benefits, increased climate change resiliency, and community vitality. The presentation will describe how Hamilton County MSDGC is attacking the affordability issue through 1) using Integrated Watershed Management to multisolve SSOs, CSOs, sewage basement backups and surface flooding to meet its CWA obligations and 2) developing an impervious surface fee to recover costs with the collaboration of the many agencies in the County that provide stormwater services. With a base of approximately 230,000 residential and commercial users, MSDGC serves an area of more than 290 square miles through nearly 3,000 miles of sanitary and combined sewers, over 120 pump stations, and 7 major WWTPs that collect and treat over 184 MGD. The County as the lead defendant in a Consent Decree (CD) with USEPA, USDOJ, Ohio EPA, and ORSANCO developed a long-term control plan (LTCP), approved in 2010. Projected cost for implementing the LTCP exceeds $4 Billion. Due to rising costs and realization of limited instream water quality benefits, the County implements Integrated Watershed Action Planning to cost-effectively meet obligations of the LTCP, CD, and CWA. One intended result is to prevent, when possible, spending once to construct volume-only control obligations of the LTCP and then spending again to meet water quality obligations of the CD and CWA. The audience will learn how the County is implementing an affordable water quality-based strategy using integrated planning and the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.