Lexington’s federal deadline to fix sewer issues expected to be extended to 2030

WEKU | By Stu Johnson

The City of Lexington is seeking a four-year extension to complete a massive sewer system overhaul. The need for additional time comes following a significant slowdown during the COVID pandemic.

Water Quality Division Director Charlie Martin told Council committee members the Environmental Protection Agency and the State have signed off on the federally mandated consent decree extension to the end of 2030. It still needs the approval of a federal judge.

One of the remaining improvements that Martin calls extremely difficult is new piping along Tates Creek Road between Armstrong Mill past Lansdowne Shopping Center.

“You go there in the morning or in the evening, you know basically it’s bumper to bumper during peak traffic times. If we’re going to be building a pipeline somewhere along that road and crossing that road multiple times, it’s gonna be a challenge,” said Martin.

Martin said that project isn’t expected to start until next fall. He noted the final overall cost of the program, estimated at $590 million more than a decade ago, will grow, even considering sizeable cost savings.

Martin added an increase in the citizen-paid sanitary sewer user fee is likely.

“The likelihood that there will probably be an additional request I would say is pretty good. It’s just a question of when. How can we leverage dollars at other sources and stuff like that in order to be able to keep moving,” said Martin.

Martin said current issues related to odor problems in certain areas of Lexington will also require capital investment which could impact the fee. So far, 64% of the projects have been completed. Martin said staffing issues and supply chain disruption during the COVID pandemic created the need for a deadline extension.

Lexington Environmental Quality and Public Works is a financial supporter of WEKU.

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