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Fort Wayne sees progress on combined sewer overflows during storms

Mama Jo
File Photo: Rebecca Green
The view from the bottom of the beginning of the tunnel designed to keep storm water from flooding the city's wastewater treatment plant.

Like many cities its size, Fort Wayne has a history of combined sewer overflows, or CSOs, when it is hit with heavy rain, just like it has seen for the better part of the past week. Those CSOs lead to untreated sewage being sent into the city's rivers.

For the last decade and a half, the city has worked to fix that issue with a three-part project.

Primarily those parts focus on separating storm and sewage water flow from one pipe into two, storing and treating more water to keep it from flowing into the rivers by using a new tunnel the city has built and increasing storage at water treatment facilities and collecting more water to reduce the chance of untreated water flowing into the rivers.

This project began in 2008 and has resulted in the completion of separation projects in lines along the St. Joe River. The water treatment facility’s workflow has increased from 48 million gallons a day in 2008 to 100 million gallons a day today. The water storage tunnel has been built, but it’s not yet collecting and storing water because the connecting work is not finished. The City Utilities Department said that won’t be done until late 2025 or early 2026.

City Utilities Public Information Officer Frank Suarez says the wind from this past week’s storms is blowing trash and debris that is blocking some storm drains leading to more flooding. He’s urging everyone to help keep them clear.

Suarez said there has not been a CSO during the recent rainfall.

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.