Faced with a $130 million mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency to fix its sewer system, the City of Terre Haute will quadruple current sewer rates over the next two decades.
“They’re telling us it’ll be up in the $60’s, between $60 and $66 dollars a month,” said Duke Bennett, Terre Haute mayor.
He says Terre Haute’s sewer system was built during the Civil War and routed all waste into the Wabash River before the city built a sewage treatment plant in the 1960s. Currently if the city receives more than a quarter inch of rain sewage is released into the river to relieve the sewer system. Bennett says that happens roughly 25 times a year.
The EPA says the city will need to spend more than $130 million to fix the problem. That’s based on an estimate of roughly two percent of the city’s annual income.
“That’s kind of the minimum. They can tell us we need to spend more than that two percent. I’ve heard other communities that have been required because the problem may be so great in their area that they have to spend more than that two percent. That’s minimum amount we’ll have to spend,” Bennett said.
Bennett says although the project is slated to take 20 years, he doesn’t anticipate it will be done by 2029.