What's the Problem?
The City’s wastewater system is in great need of rehabilitation, maintenance, and repairs. For some time, during times of sewer overflows wastewater has escaped the sewer system allowing untreated wastewater to enter local streams and rivers, ditches, and even homes. This obviously creates unsanitary and unhealthy conditions and poses serious risks to the environment. Additionally, the poor condition of the sewer system also impedes the City’s growth and limits revitalization and rehabilitation efforts due to the lack of sewer capacity to accommodate new users.
In 2009, Jackson was notified by the EPA of pending enforcement actions by the Federal Government for the shortfalls in the City’s wastewater system. These problems include sewer system overflows (SSOs), prohibited bypasses from the Savanna Street Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), lack of system maintenance, and deficient record keeping. The City then negotiated a Consent Decree with the EPA in order to address these problems. The Consent Decree is basically an agreement between the City and the EPA that forestalls further Federal action and allows the City the ability to develop its own program to correct the sewer system’s problems. The program is called J|FLOW. J|FLOW is short for Jackson: Fixing Leaks and Overflowing Wastewater.
There are three primary infrastructure issues which the City must address under the Consent Decree:
- Repairs to the Savanna Street Wastewater Treatment Facility (SSWWTF)
Rehabilitation and repairs of the City’s wastewater collection and transmission system, and
Rehabilitation and repairs of the West Bank Interceptor (the City’s main sewer line running from County Line Road to the Savanna Street WWTF).
The City must take action now to make investments that will secure its infrastructure, promote a sustainable environment, protect residents and businesses, and allow for future growth. To accomplish its goals, the City is considering a range of financing tools, including: state and Federal grant and loan programs, lines of credit, optional sales taxes, bond issues, and rate increases.
As a point of reference, the following chart reflects Jackson sewer rates in the context of other major Southeast cities.
We all depend on utility services in our homes. While many services that we all use in our daily lives have dramatically increased over the past decade, the City’s leadership has done its very best to provide water, sewer, and sanitation services at the lowest possible costs to residents. The City’s goal is not to make a profit, but simply to provide reliable and effective services to citizens. The following graphic provides a comparison of an average Jackson household’s monthly utility bills since 2000.