South Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant operates under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. This allows the plant to discharge treated wastewater to the St. Joseph River in accordance with the stringent permit conditions. South Bend’s plant is designed to treat an average flow of 48 million gallons per day and can treat at least 77 million gallons a day under high flow. In 2018, the plant treated more than 13 billion gallons of water. The solids produced at the plant are treated to levels that make them acceptable for use on certain farm fields.
Combined Sewer Overflow
South Bend has a combined sewer, meaning rain water and sewage often travel in the same pipes. When excess rain overloads these pipes, an event known as a combined sewer overflow (CSO) occurs, sending dirty water into the river. This is not unique to only South Bend, as it also happens in hundreds of cities throughout the United States. As required by federal regulation, the City is taking steps to upgrade its sewer system to end this practice and to improve its local water quality. Known as the Long-term Control Plan (LTCP), steps are currently being implemented and will be complete by 2031.
Two Phases of South Bend’s Long-Term Control Plan
Phase 1 was completed in 2017 at a cost of nearly $150 million. In certain South Bend neighborhoods, sewer separation (uncombining of the sewer system) occurred as well as the creation of the City’s Smart Sewer System. Containing over 150 sensors, the Smart Sewer System provides data for a range of parameters including flow, depth, velocity, weir/gate control valve position, water temperature, river level, turbidity and oxidation reduction potential. The system also contains smart moving valves that direct flow in the sewer and control storm water basin levels.
Phase 1 was a success, having removed over 75% of the annual CSO volume and preventing more than 1,500 million gallons of combined sewage from entering the St. Joseph River each year.
Phase 2 of the LTCP is estimated to cost more than $700 million to implement; however, the Department of Public Works has devised an equally environmentally beneficial plan that is based on utilizing data gathered by South Bend’s unique Smart Sewer System. This new plan is a Smarter Alternative for a Greener Environment (SAGE) and will cost $200 million, far less than the original $700 million.
Currently, the Department of Public Works is working to gain federal approval for this new SAGE plan.
Public CSO notification: If you would like to be notified of CSO events in South Bend, sign up for email notification. Residents wanting information on CSO events can also call 574.277.8515.
Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Annual Report
This annual notice describes CSO discharges that occurred in 2018 and complies with the new requirements of the federal NPDES permit rules, 40 CFR 122.38(b). For more information, contact the Wastewater Plant at 574.277.8515.
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