Spencer, Iowa, Agrees to Plan for Fixing Sewers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 has reached a legal agreement with the City of Spencer, Iowa, to spend an estimated $32 million to repair its sewer system.

The administrative agreement, approved Jan. 27, sets a schedule for the city to complete the separation of its combined sewers, which carry stormwater and sanitary sewage. Combined sewer systems will often overflow after heavy rains or snows, allowing untreated sewage to flow into creeks, streams, and lakes.

Combined sewer systems are remnants of the country's early infrastructure and are typically found in older communities. Combined sewer systems serve more than 700 U.S. communities, including several in Iowa, and about 40 million people.

"This agreement should produce significant reductions in health risks to the public while making important improvements to the environment," said EPA Region 7 Acting Administrator William Rice. "I commend the city of Spencer and its residents for making this investment in their city."

The agreement calls for the city to submit a Sewer System Evaluation Study to EPA by August and to complete all construction projects necessary to eliminate combined sewer overflows into the Little Sioux River by Dec. 31, 2028.

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