Conflicting reports trouble Jeffersonville's fix for Ohio River - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Conflicting reports trouble Jeffersonville's fix for Ohio River pollution

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A new report throws a wrench in Jeffersonville's plans to stop polluting the Ohio River -- and it may affect sewer bills that have already increased 200 percent.

The Ohio River almost kisses Jonn Frey's front door -- and Jeffersonville's problem of polluting it wrap a bear hug around his wallet.

"I just paid the sewer bill a few days ago and it was right at $75," Frey said. He paid around 20 dollars just three years ago.

Frey's sewer bill steadily surged after the EPA smacked Jeffersonville with a mandate to fix sewage overflow into the river.

"It's a huge problem," Frey said. "We are running out of clean water."

The city drastically raised sewer rates to fund a $44 million interceptor, or large pipe, to channel water underground. That pipe is making waves.

"I think we were all surprised," said Dennis Julius Jeffersonville City Council President. "I think that's why the sewer board hired an outside company to come in."

Sycamore Advisors, the company brought in for a second opinion funding the interceptor, identified a $23 million hole funding the project.

"That report is nonsense," said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore.

Moore believes the first study, done by H.J. Umbaugh & Associates, which found the city's funding to be sound. Moore said the council pushed the sewer board to seek a second opinion to slow the project.

It may be working.

"If you're asking right now, I'd say we need to lay this project back," said Dale Orem, a Jeffersonville Sewer Board member.

Sewer board leaders now want to consider other options to fix overflow and Orem would not completely rule out recommending another rate increase for customers.

"At what point and time does Jeffersonville lock into a plan to fix a problem that has been known for five years now?" asked WDRB's Gilbert Corsey.

"When we know we can pay for it," Orem said.

"The money is there," Mayor Moore said. "Umbaugh says it's there. Let's quit arguing and get it done."

Frey says he's all for it. It's not so much the money on his sewer bill: it's knowing what he's paying for so dollars don't go down the drain.

"Let's go with what works," Frey said. "Take care of the problem and move on."

Sewer bill have been a major point of contention in Jeffersonville. As rates started to increase the city started shutting off sewer lines on customers who were behind in payments. The next sewer board meeting is October, 16th.

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