Nimble We Aren’t

There is a report in this morning’s Indianapolis Starburied between breathless reports about the Colt’s new quarterback, true, but an actual story with real news in it–about efforts to address Indianapolis’ longstanding sewer problem.

When it rains, tons of raw sewage are dumped into our water supply. Citizens, which bought the water and sewer utilities last year, is beginning construction of massive tunnels beneath the city to divert that sewage and correct the problem–and not so incidentally, fulfill the City’s obligations under a 2006 consent decree with the EPA.

I was delighted to read that we are finally going to address this problem. But I couldn’t help marveling over the amount of time it has taken.

I was in City Hall from 1977-80. Indianapolis’ sewer problems were already a regular topic of conversation at cabinet meetings. The City had been in discussion with the (then new) EPA since the Lugar Administration. (I wouldnt say there was a lot of resistance to demands that the problems be fixed, but an engineer with DPW reportedly protested that it would be cheaper to clean White River than comply with federal demands.)

It took from 1975 to 2006 for Indianapolis to agree to stop dumping raw sewage into our drinking water. It took another six years to begin remediation. Of course,┬áCity leaders have been trying for almost that long to address our need for decent public transportation, and we’re nowhere close to getting that job done.

If it took us 37 years to begin fixing a problem that everyone acknowledged we had, a problem we knew how to solve–how many years do you suppose it will it take to fix public education?


  1. I think this is something on which we agree. Public safety, education, streets & sidewalks, even public transportation seem fundamentals of city government to me, compared to the ameneties of sports teams, TIFs, and special events.

    While not always easy to measure, it’s argued that the latter pay for themselves in promotion of the city, commerce, and a perceived escalation in quality of life.

    While funding is not the sole factor, how poorly do crime and particularly education statistics have to be before these amenities DON’T pay for themselves?

  2. Didn’t the federal government’s NPDES Phase II require them to have this taken care of several years ago?

  3. This reminds me that elections are always about a choice.
    The “R” people stand for
    Dirty Water
    Dirty AIR
    Unsafe Food
    Unsafe Medicine
    Healthcare only for the fortunate
    10 MPG SUV vehicles
    Illegal, immoral wars
    Dirty oil rather than clean Wind or solar (or God forbid–Algae)
    and on and on
    These people are not for anything that would benefit the PEOPLE of our state & country. Only the biggest international corporations benefit.
    I would not expect anything better from the city “R” folks.
    I have lived on the NE Side for 28 years and the aroma experienced while driving down Fall Creek is like a boat trip through an outhouse basement every time it rains.
    “Major League City” . Right

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