City Preparing to File Amendement for Water and Sewer Decree

The City is preparing to file an amendment with the U.S. Department of Justice to its costly consent decree related to historic water and sewer violations.

Mayor Dan Rizzo said the administration and the City Solicitor’s Office will submit an amendment to lengthen the time the City has to complete the full array of repairs. Right now, the City has 10 years to complete an estimated $50 million or more of repairs to the system – all of which are fully funded by the ratepayers.

“We are preparing a case to amend this consent decree,” he said this week. “I am reviewing a package to be submitted that begins the push to amend this consent decree and bump it out to 15 years and I would like to see it actually go out 20 to 25 years. To fix 100 years of problems in 10 years is unfair…We’ve demonstrated our commitment and we deserve some relief.”

Council President Tony Zambuto said he was happy to hear the City was preparing to submit the amendment, and he said he hopes it gets real consideration.

“I hope they will be understanding and look at the fact that they’re crippling our community,” he said. “If they can cut us some  slack on the time period that would help ratepayers…We’ve shown a lot of progress already, but it has become crippling.”

The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came down hard on the City in 2010 with a take-it-or-leave-it settlement that required a modest fine. However, it also required a 10-year plan to fix most of the major deficiencies in the water and sewer system – a system largely neglected for decades.

It is estimated that the total cost of all fixes will amount to between $50 million and $75 million.

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