Mayoral Candidates Debate the CSO Project

May 1, 2013

Omaha is in the midst of an 18-year combined sewer overflow project with a price tag of nearly two billion dollars.

Mayoral candidates Jean Stothert and Jim Suttle discussed environmentally friendly options for that project during a debate last week at the Omaha Press Club.

Omaha’s 2013 budget includes 167-million dollars for the project. Suttle, who’s seeking a second term as Mayor, says his office is exploring solutions to bring down the cost of the sewer separation project.

"We have in our plan 14 green solutions, and we are working with the EPA’s research group in Cincinnati to find 14 more. Surely the green solutions will help us find a better solution as we deal with an unfunded federal mandate."

Stothert, who represents District 5 on the Omaha City Council, says green solutions can be found through leadership.

"Right now it is an 18-year project, and we have to have a leader in our city that makes sure that every contact that is let and the management of this contract is such that we can continue to advance and use more and more technology as it is developed."

Neither candidate offered a specific so-called “green” solution to lower the cost of the CSO project.

Last fall, changes were made to the rate structure that businesses pay to fund the CSO project.

An agreement between the city, the Chamber of Commerce, and 19 businesses moved heavy industrial, commercial, and industrial rate-payers into one classification.