Atlanta officials announced Monday that they reached a proposed agreement with the federal government and the state of Georgia to modify a 1999 federal wastewater consent decree.
The agreement includes extending the final completion date to 2027 from 2014. That would allow the city to address the remaining work needed to eliminate sewer overflows in rivers and streams, and make improvements to the drinking water system, according to city officials.
The additional time will also help alleviate financial burdens on the city and ratepayers, who have some of the highest water and wastewater rates in the country, officials said.
“Since 1999, the city of Atlanta has dramatically reduced the number of sewer spills and significantly decreased the number of rain-induced overflows into Atlanta’s rivers and streams,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “The consent decree extension will allow the city to continue vital infrastructure repairs that reduce sewage overflows and protect our natural resources and drinking water.”
To date, the city has spent more than $1.5 billion on improvement projects required by the consent decree. The city expects to spend an additional $445 million to complete work required by the decree.
The proposed agreement is subject to approval of the City Council, and will undergo a public comment period.
After that, the federal government will determine whether to seek approval by the U.S. District Court overseeing the consent decree.
Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management, an enterprise agency, had $3.18 billion of outstanding water and wastewater bonds as of June 30, 2011.
The bonds are rated A by both Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, and A1 by Moody’s Investors Service.