Waterloo consent agreement passes in alleged EPA violations - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo consent agreement passes in alleged EPA violations

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

You can expect to pay more in sewer usage taxes in the near future if you live in Waterloo.

The city of Waterloo is accused of violating the federal Clean Water Act, specifically in regards to sewage overflow, and now it has to pay millions of dollars.

At Monday's city council meeting, there was a vote on a consent agreement to pay for the violations.

The motion passed, but it wasn't a unanimous vote.

A few council members expressed their concerns with the the consent agreement, saying residents are going to be drowning in debt because of tax increases, which will be needed to pay the fine.

Eastern Iowa is a region no stranger to heavy rain.

When there's heavy rain, the potential for sanitary sewers to overflow increases.

In Waterloo, the EPA has alleged the city's sanitary sewers have released an excess of untreated sewage during heavy rains, and now they want the city to pay up.

"The EPA is shaking us down," said Councilman Tom Lind.

At the meeting, Lind accused the mayor and the financial committee of keeping the rest of the board in the dark.

"All of the sudden, it comes to a quick work session, and you're supposed to vote on a big issue that you found out is worth $200 million.," said Lind. 

To be clear, the plan's cost could range from $50-$200 million, according to the city's chief financial officer Michelle Weidner.

And the mayor says Lind's accusations of the board being kept in the dark are false.

"I don't want people to believe that, because it's simply not the truth," said Mayor Buck Clark at the meeting.

Lind says he wishes the city took the issue to trail rather than having a consent agreement.

He says there's too much pork in the agreement, and he's concerned for taxpayers.

"The analogy is when you take your car to my brother's shop, you don't sign the ticket and say fix it. You say no, I want to know how much its going to cost," said Lind.

Nevertheless, the consent agreement passed, and Mayor Clark says he's proud of how the city has worked with the EPA to get things done.

According to the city's chief financial officer, some studies need to be completed before there is any actual cost set in stone.

She said at the meeting she has a good idea how everything will be financed for the next few years.

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