EPA mandating Keokuk to separate sewer outlets

The Federal EPA is requiring that Keokuk separate its storm water and sewer outlets, but no federal funding is being given.

Work is currently being done to separate sewer outlets in some areas of the city.

But, if Keokuk were to separate all the outlets it would cost $77 million, that number could reach $105 million when you account for inflation over the next 20 years.

And the EPA has given Keokuk a 17 year time line to finish the project.

Mayor Dave Gudgel was given a consent order from the EPA to agree to this project, but has not signed it.

He is hoping to extend that timeline to 30 years or get the EPA to not require them to separate all of the city's sewer outlets.

"We're hoping that our work that we're presently doing, which will indeed costs several million dollars will somehow perhaps allow the EPA to look back and say, 'okay they are doing something' and because of that, may not require us to in fact do it all," said Gudgel.

Gudgel says he expects the EPA will require him to sign the consent order in the next few months.

But when Spring comes around, Gudgel says Keokuk will be doing tests on the Mississippi River to show the EPA that there is not a pollution problem with the city's sewer system.

"We're hoping that with in the next 4 to 5 years or even less than that, by doing our own due diligence here, that we will have hopefully been able to show the EPA that the total project is not going to be necessary with the results tat we hope to gather from the Mississippi," said Gudgel.

Mayor Gudgel says there are only a few ways to pay for this project if the city does have to go forward with it.

Two of those ways are through federal or state funding and Gudgel says those are not likely to be granted, unless the city is finding other funding sources.

Which leaves a sewer rate increase for the citizens, the city council will vote on that issue Thursday.

The proposed rate increase would raise the average monthly rate from $19 to as high as $25 depending on usage.