City Moves to Protect Public Health, Eliminate Overflows

At last evening’s City Council meeting, the City Council voted 7-2 in favor of bill G-16-03. If approved on final reading, this ordinance would authorize the construction of sanitary sewer projects that would eliminate the final remaining sanitary sewer overflows in the city.

What is a sanitary sewer overflow?

A sanitary sewer overflow occurs when untreated sewage is discharged from the system before it reaches the treatment facility. This is mainly caused by heavy rainfalls, as the rain will get into the system and overload it, causing untreated sewage to overflow out of the system through manholes or old or cracked pipes.

A Sanitary Sewer Overflow occurs through a manhole.

A Sanitary Sewer Overflow occurs through a manhole.

What has the city done in the past to lower the amount of Sanitary Sewer Overflows?

Updated maintenance plans and projects, like the Sewer Reline Project, have eliminated most of the sanitary sewer overflow sites that the City has experienced in the past. In 2010, the City identified nearly 80 sites where SSOs could occur. Currently, the City is down to 16 sites that could experience SSOs during certain conditions and rainfalls.

What project is the City considering to eliminate the final 16 sanitary sewer overflow sites?

The City Council is considering approving construction on a series of odorless, underground storage tanks. These tanks are being designed to eliminate all remaining sanitary sewer overflows and meet all final requirements demanded by the Environmental Protection Agency under the 1992 Consent Decree. During heavy rainfalls, the sanitary sewer system can overload on its peak capacity. This proposed system would redirect the untreated sewage into a storage tank, capturing it there until water levels in the sanitary sewer system lower to normal levels. The tank would then release the captured untreated sewage back into the system, where it will make its way to the plant for treatment.

What does the Environmental Protection Agency have to do with all of this?

In 1992, the EPA demanded that the City eliminate sanitary sewer overflows in the City of New Albany under a Consent Decree. This Consent Decree also stipulated that the EPA has oversight and final approval of any new developments that would tie into the New Albany Sewer System. The proposed project would eliminate the remaining sanitary sewer overflows and meet all final requirements of the 1992 Consent Decree.

Sewer Board & Mayor Urge Action to Protect Health, Environment, and Economic Growth of City

At this evening's City Council meeting, the City Council will consider support of certain Sanitary Sewer Improvements that will finalize the City of New Albany’s obligation with the Environmental Protection Agency by eliminating all remaining overflows and to take action to protect residents from excessive sewer rate increases.

The New Albany Sewer Board is requesting that the New Albany City Council approve four capital projects and assign a Consumer Price Index for all future rate changes.

The four infrastructure projects include the construction of an underground storage tank, which is being designed to eliminate the remaining sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and meet all the final requirements demanded by the EPA under the Consent Decree including the oversight of sewer credits.  The New Albany Sewer Board is requesting approval of the City Council to fund a system of underground, odorless storage tanks. These storage tanks will help eliminate the remaining SSOs by containing the contaminated rainwater within the tanks while the sanitary system is at peak capacity due to heavy rainfalls and not producing overflows into the community. As the rainfall and water levels subside, the contaminated water in the storage tanks will then be pumped back into the system.  In addition, the Sewer Board is asking the City Council to help fund 2 lift station improvement projects and a clarifier system that helps improve the efficiency of the treatment operation.  With these projects, it is expected that no additional major capital improvement projects will be needed for at least 10-15 years and the EPA will release the City of New Albany from the highly regulated consent decree which restricts development by regulating sanitary usage to prevent sanitary sewage overflows SSO’s. 

The City of New Albany has been held to an EPA consent decree since 1992.    

A Sanitary Sewer Overflow is when untreated sewage is discharged from the sanitary sewer system before it reaches the sewage treatment facility. These SSO’s are mainly caused by rainfall, creating what is known as a wet weather overflow.  The EPA demanded the City of New Albany eliminate these SSOs in 1992.  Before previous and recent improvements were made, a 1 inch rainfall could cause Sanitary Sewer Overflows in the millions of gallons.  Now, with ongoing efforts and improvements like the Sewer Reline Project, even a heavy 3.5 inch rainfall event only produces about 10,000 gallons of SSOs.  In 2010, the City identified nearly 80 SSO sites.  Currently, the City is down to 16 sites that experience SSOs during certain conditions and rainfalls. 

Also as part of the Consent Decree, the EPA has oversight and final approval of any developments within New Albany’s service through the granting of a limited amount of sewer credits.  This means the EPA can limit, reduce, or deny economic development projects and growth opportunities for the City.  The City of New Albany is experiencing growth, business development and future interest in redevelopment.  However, with a limited amount of sewer credits remaining, and final approval of these developments by the EPA, the City could be in a situation of turning down projects and growth for the community. 

The Sewer Board has also asked the City Council to assign the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all future rate changes to protect residents and businesses from excessive rate increases.

On average, sewer expenses have risen 22% over the last 4 years in communities throughout the state of Indiana, and lots of these communities have not taken action yet to protect residents of their communities. Six years ago, residents of New Albany had to experience the harsh consequences of a large sewer rate increase because it was not addressed by prior officials before it became an issue.  In 2010 and 2012, customers had to endure a total rate increase more than 40%.  By comparison, the City of Jeffersonville had to implement a rate increase beginning in 2011 to 2015 which equated to approximately a 200% increase to customers in their average sewer bill from about $24 per month to $73 per month. 

By taking this action, we can help protect residents of New Albany from exorbitant and detrimental rate increase to sewer customers as seen in other communities and help protect their financial situation in the future.

Sewer Utility Finances

Compared with other local communities, the New Albany Sewer Utility is on solid financial footing. The Utility is hopeful that all EPA requirements will be met within the next 3 years, provided the projects are approved that will eliminate the final nuisance SSOs. Current financials show that they Utility will see significant debt reduction of over $4 million annually within 7 years.  As a comparison, some local communities are not projected to be debt-free until 2045.

"We’re very proud that we have been able to both reduce debt caused by EPA obligations and protect residents from large rate increases, while simultaneously making improvements to the Utility that help protect the environment. Adopted as presented, this ordinance will set the course for long-term economic growth, protect the health of all residents, and ensure the financial viability of the New Albany Sewer Utility well into the future," stated Mayor Gahan.

Rental Registration Program to Begin December 5th

Earlier this year, Mayor Jeff Gahan and Building Commissioner David Brewer urged the City Council to pass a rental registration program that requires landlords to register any properties within the city limits that will be rented to tenants. The Rental Housing Ordinance will increase communication that will help prevent the deterioration of residential housing, assist in compliance of minimum rental housing standards, improve safety for residents, protect the character and stability of residential neighborhoods, and preserve and increase property values throughout the city.

For more information about this history of this ordinance, please see here: http://newalbanycityhall.com/home/2016/3/7/rental-housing-ordinance-a-must-for-new-albany

To view the Rental Housing Registration Ordinance, please click HERE.

Rental Property Registration will begin on Monday December 5th. All landlords within the city will have until January 31st, 2017 to register their properties.

>> Click Here for a Rental Property Registration Form <<

To register a property, please download and complete the form (linked HERE). After completing the form, you can mail the form in or turn it in at the City-County Building. A registration fee of $5.00 will be applied per rental address/parcel.

To mail in your completed rental registration form, please send both the form and $5.00 registration fee (checks only) to:

City of New Albany Building Department
311 Hauss Square, Rm. #329
New Albany, IN 47150

To e-mail your completed application, please send it to RentalRegistration@cityofnewalbany.com

If an application is e-mailed, you will still need to pay your registration fee either in person or through the mail.

Downtown Alley Will Transform into Inviting and Distinct Pathway

At this morning’s Board of Public Works and Safety meeting, the Board accepted an agreement between the City of New Albany and Michell Timperman Ritz Architects for improvements to the alley that runs from Spring Street to Main Street. 

The Alley scheduled for improvements. It runs from Spring Street to Main Street.

The Alley scheduled for improvements. It runs from Spring Street to Main Street.

The alley and surrounding area currently has a few murals painted by local artists, and the City wants to expand on this idea and transform the alley into an inviting and distinct pedestrian pathway. Planned improvements include drop lighting, murals, sculpture pads, planter boxes, and resurfaced decorative pavement. The City of New Albany is partnering with Develop New Albany and the New Albany Floyd County Schools Art Department on this exciting project.

alleyafter.png

“Develop New Albany is completely on board and supportive of this exciting project. Improvements like this continue to attract people to visit downtown New Albany to shop, dine, and have fun,” stated Tammy Hogan, President of Develop New Albany.

"The New Albany Floyd County School System's Elementary Art Program is thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with the City of New Albany in this collaborative effort.  This is such a grand experience for our students.  This will show young budding artists how community effects the arts, and give them a sense of pride and accomplishment they will be able to share with future generations.  The ability to create youth engagement, community partnership, and instilling the idea of community service in our children is the future of New Albany," stated Mary Arnold, Elementary Art Teacher Leader for New Albany-Floyd County Schools.

“This project will not only enhance the safety of this corridor, but will add another unique and inviting pathway for pedestrians in our downtown,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “I’m thrilled that Develop New Albany and the New Albany-Floyd County Schools Art Department have chosen to partner with us on this downtown improvement.”

 

Jingle Walk and Holiday Fest

Develop New Albany's annual Jingle Walk and Holiday Fest are just around the corner! The Jingle Walk runs from 2-6pm on Saturday, November 26th.

Looking to shop local and buy some nice gifts for the upcoming holidays? The Jingle Walk is the perfect opportunity to get your holiday shopping done while having some fun. Learn more about the Jingle Walk by watching the video below. 

Wanting to bring the kids out and have some fun with the whole family? Join us at the YMCA at 3:30pm for Holiday Fest, featuring games, crafts, inflatables, activities, and more!

Dont forget! Be sure to stop by Bicentennial Park at 6:30pm after you've got your shopping finished for the annual lighting of the tree and to get your photo with Santa!

New Albany Now: Holiday Events Preview