City Utilities starting on 18-year plan to improve water quality in local rivers by significantly reducing combined sewer overflow

City Utilities has started the nearly $240 million plan to improve Fort Wayne'€™s river quality and wants to inform and educate customers throughout the process, Mayor Tom Henry said.

The 18-year plan will reduce the amount of combined sewage entering Fort Wayne'€™s waterways by about 90% from more than 1 billion gallons to about 100 million gallons in a typical year. The number of overflow events will be reduced from more than 100 now to four or fewer in a typical year by 2025.

Combined sewers are sewer systems where sanitary sewage and storm water uses the same pipes. During heavy rain events, the additional yet untreated sewage flows directly into waterways. There are more than 100 communities in Indiana with combined sewers and more than 700 nationwide.

“This is a comprehensive plan that demonstrates the City of Fort Wayne'€™s commitment to clean water in our three rivers,” Mayor Henry said. “Fort Wayne'€™s rivers are some of the most underutilized resources in the city, but the long term control plan will improve the water quality and make the St. Joseph, the St. Marys and the Maumee the assets they deserve to be. Our sewer overflow control strategy balances the needs of the environment with the needs of our customers.”

The City'€™s plan will enhance use of existing combined sewer overflow storage ponds at the Water Pollution Control Plant on Dwenger Avenue. In the later years of the plan, large interceptor sewers will be constructed parallel to the St. Marys and Maumee rivers to collect sewage from most of the existing overflow points.

City Utilities has already implemented partial sewer separations in some neighborhoods, but it would be cost-prohibitive and extremely disruptive to neighborhoods to do a complete sewer separation for every combined sewer line in Fort Wayne. City officials studied seven alternatives to control untreated sewage flowing into the rivers and chose the one that had the greatest impact on water quality with the lowest burden on customers.

City Utilities will make regular reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the public.

The City'€™s consent decree and long term control plan, negotiated over a 7-year period, was developed with approval from EPA and IDEM. This plan allows the City to make strategic investments in environmental, economic and educational development opportunities for Fort Wayne now and into the future.

“This plan requires skilled workers including engineers, plant operators, surveyors, construction trades, technical staff and more for nearly two decades of implementation,” Mayor Henry said. “Area high schools and colleges can serve as a local pipeline to educate today'€™s students for the skills the City of Fort Wayne will need in the years to come to successfully execute this plan.”

On Sunday, City Utilities staff will have a display board, distribute copies of the long term control plan executive summary and answer questions at the downtown branch of the Allen County Public Library noon to 5 p.m. They will also be at the Dupont, Georgetown, Little Turtle, Pontiac, Waynedale and Shawnee branches in the coming weeks.

Downloadable versions of the consent decree and long term control plan are available on the City'€™s Web site,, under the City Utilities section. City Utilities will also make these documents available on a CD at local libraries.

City Utilities staff are available to neighborhood associations and other community and business organizations to make presentations about the long term control plan. To schedule a presentation, call (260) 427-1381.