Omaha receives funding help for sewer overhaul
December 21st, 2011
Omaha, NE – Omaha received a bit of help Wednesday to pay for a massive sewer overhaul project.
A little over a million dollars, $1,116,000, has been awarded to the city from the Environmental Protection Agency. In a statement, the EPA said the funds would go toward sewer improvements: specifically a $7.8 million dollar sewer separation project thatâ€™s already underway in Omahaâ€™s Country Club neighborhood. But thatâ€™s just a small piece of a big picture.â€œItâ€™s a relatively small dent on the overall program cost,â€ said Marty Grate is the Environmental Services Manager for the city. â€œBut certainly a million dollars is a million dollars, and we appreciate the work of Senator Nelsonâ€™s office in helping champion this cause.â€
Grate said the grant was part of an earmarked fund from 2009 and 2010: one the city has received regularly over the last eight years. The price tag of the whole project is up to $1.7 billion. Thatâ€™s an unfunded federal mandate for Omaha to overhaul its aging sewer system and bring the city into compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle will be heading back to Washington D.C. in January to continue the call for federal assistance. â€œMayor Suttleâ€™s been emphatic for some time now that he believes that if the federal government is going to require this project to take place that they should partner with us and provide 50 percent of the funding.â€
Grate said Suttle feels like heâ€™s making some progress in Washington. And he said Nebraskaâ€™s Congressional delegation is â€œwell awareâ€ of the burden of the program and are doing what they can to help. In the meantime, funding for the CSO is planned to come directly from ratepayers, who have already seen their sewer bills jump.
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