About the EPA Settlement Agreement
SAWS will invest an additional $492 million in its sewer system over 10-12 years.
In June 2013, SAWS approved a settlement agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will require additional work over the next 10 to 12 years to reduce sewer spills. The agreement, or consent decree, avoids costly federal litigation and an uncertain outcome.
The responsible commitment to perform this additional work will improve service to SAWS ratepayers and protect the environment and our community. The costs of the settlement are already built into SAWS' rate increase projections.
Sewer spills are not unique to San Antonio. We will join over 35 other cities across the country working under EPA consent decrees to reduce sewer spills.
Despite the cost of the agreement, SAWS bills will remain among the lowest in Texas.
Under the consent decree, SAWS will invest an estimated $492 million more than what the utility would have spent over the next 10 years to reduce sewer spills and maintain its sewer system infrastructure.
The work required to comply with the consent decree over a term of 10 to 12 years includes system-wide inspection, and cleaning and evaluation of sewer pipelines. Also required are the targeted replacement and rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. The work is tailored specifically to the 5,200 miles of pipe in the SAWS sewer system, avoiding unnecessary costs and focusing on the causes of sewer spills in San Antonio.
Seventy-five percent of the sewer spills in San Antonio are caused by grease and debris. For years, SAWS has implemented an ongoing sewer spill reduction program to curb the number of sewer spills from its waste water system. It has resulted in a 30 percent reduction in the number of spills from their peak.
While the agreement will require additional costs (outlined in the table below), it represents a positive and meaningful investment in our city's infrastructure.
Rate projections already included this level of investment.