Suttle seeks federal assistance for sewer project
March 24th, 2011
Omaha, NE – Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle headed to Washington D.C. this week to request federal funding assistance for Omaha’s mandated sewer separation project. But, so far, the city is picking up the tab alone.
Though preparation for The C.S.O project began back in 2007, today the city still has no promise of federal assistance. The unfunded federal mandate to restructure Omaha’s sewer systems has left the city with a staggering tab. That’s $1.7 billion. Several plans have been proposed to help offset the cost of the bill, including the Omaha City Council approving a resolution on Wednesday to request federal assistance. The resolution calls for the Nebraska Congressional delegation to propose legislation to provide a 50 percent federal cost-share for the project.
Director of Communications for Mayor Jim Suttle’s office, Aida Amoura, said the Council is understanding of the dilemma facing the city.
“The city council responded very well,” said Amoura. “They approved the resolution because I think they understand we’re in a situation right now where we have a federal mandate that’s not funded that is very costly. The EPA, in effect, is pricing us out from having affordable drinking water and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen. If it does, we want to make sure if we have to fix our sewer systems….we need help doing that.”
Omaha, isn’t alone though. More than 770 other cities, including Plattsmouth, Nebraska, have also been mandated with a similar project. Omaha’s project would reduce the occurrence of sewage overflowing into both the Missouri River and Papillion Creek. Since Omaha’s sewer systems were mainly constructed in the 1800’s, most of eastern Omaha’s facilities are in dire need of renovation. Amoura said the problem is not only limited to Omaha, but also her surrounding cities. Amoura said Suttle plans to work with regional businesses as well as other local politicians to meet half-way on finding a solution.
“The mayor is planning to get a meeting together with our industrial businesses, or commercial businesses, and with the Nebraska and Iowa Congressional delegations,” she said. “The whole sewer system spreads over the region, and that would include Carter Lake and Pottawatomie county so… we would need to talk to the delegation not only from Nebraska, but also from Iowa.”
Amoura said Suttle has yet to meet with either delegation.