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    MSD is retrofitting its 100-year-old sewer system to help curb sewage overflow in Cherokee Park, and is offering homeowners cash for their cooperation.

    The area, which is bounded approximately by Norris, Douglass, Speed and Cherokee Park, addresses combined sewage issues that affect the park. “The area is unique,” says Wes Sydnor, a professional engineer with Metropolitan Sewer District. “There’s two pipes—a storm and a sanitary one—and there was just no rhyme or reason how downspouts or houses were connected back then.” Over the past decade, MSD has tried to correct the situations where the sanitary connection—that is, plumbing from homes—was connected to the storm sewer. “The rain fills the sanitary sewer and causes an overflow,” says Sydnor. “Our focus now is taking downspouts that are connected to the sanitary sewer offline.”

    MSD has an EPA commitment to fully separate the sewers by the end of 2013, says Sydnor. “The approach is that we have a form homeowners can fill out. When they respond, we’ll have a pre-inspection meeting with a dye test”—where dye is dropped at the downspout to ascertain whether it’s connected to the sanitary sewer—“and also determine whether or not the homeowner disconnecting the downspout creates a drainage issue for their neighbors.”

    The program is modeled after one in Portland, Ore., which Sydnor says has had “very significant results in participation and water removed from the sewer.”

    Eligible residents will receive a mailing later this month, but in the meantime, meetings to further explain the process and homeowner eligibility will be held tonight, June 8, and on Thursday, June 10, both at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 2000 Douglass Blvd., Room 120, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. There will also be a discussion regarding disconnections that will require an engineered solution.

    For more information or if you have questions regarding the meeting or the project, contact Wes Sydnor at 540-6274. 

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