> The city of Indianapolis is embarking upon the largest investment in clean water infrastructure in its history, creating opportunities for new business in one of America’s most affordable and entrepreneurial cities. Mayor Bart Peterson’s Clean Streams-Healthy Neighborhoods program is an investment of more than $3 billion dollars over 20 years to address longstanding and well-documented problems with the city’s sewage and stormwater systems. The initiative includes a $435 million capital program in 2006-2008 alone.

The city is addressing prioritized needs in the following four areas:

  • reducing combined sewage overflows (CSOs),
  • converting 18,000 homes on septic tanks to sewers,
  • addressing current and future needs in the sanitary sewer system, and
  • improving neighborhood drainage and flood protection.

&quotThe scope and size of this program is unprecedented in our community,&quot says Kumar Menon, director of the Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW). &quotBoth residents and the business community are excited about this opportunity for healthier neighborhoods, cleaner streams, and economic development.&quot

The program includes a required $1.8 billion investment under a federal consent decree signed in October. Under the decree, the city agreed to invest the following:

  • $1.73 billion by December 2025 to significantly reduce CSOs;
  • $50.4 million by December 2015 to eliminate chronic overflows from seven locations in the separate sanitary sewer system; and
  • $3.5 million by December 2010 on supplemental environmental projects to eliminate septic systems in two neighborhoods.

The city also plans to spend an additional $64.3 million in watershed improvement projects such as streambank restoration and streamflow augmentation.

&quotWe cannot do this work alone,&quot says Menon. &quotWith the commitment the city has made, we need to continue our efforts to cultivate businessengineers, contractors, consultants, and otherswho can help us execute the program on time.&quot

Expertise in the areas of pipelines, concrete, instrumentation and controls, hauling, and excavation will be needed to effectively implement the program. In addition, material suppliers for stone, asphalt, and concrete, as well as other support services such as traffic control, surveying, and inspection services, are needed, Menon says.

The consent decree represents just a portion of the city’s capital improvement program, which also includes a comprehensive septic tank elimination program, sanitary sewer master plan, and stormwater master plan. By 2025, the city estimates that these programs will require a combined installation of the following:

  • more than 25 miles of new sewers and interceptors to capture and reduce CSOs;
  • a new, 9-mile-long, deep underground tunnel to capture and convey CSOs to the city’s treatment plants;
  • 300 miles of new sewers to serve current septic tank neighborhoods;
  • more than 70 miles of new sewers and interceptors to meet sanitary sewer capacity needs and anticipated future growth; and
  • multiple stormwater drainage projects and best management practices to improve stormwater quality.

In addition, the city is implementing an aggressive sewer rehabilitation program that has helped extend the life of existing sewers and prevent hundreds of system failures. Materials used for these pipelines generally have a 50-year lifespan; nevertheless, most large-diameter pipes in the combined sewer area are more than 100 years old.

&quotSince the 1990s, we have issued contracts for more than 90 sewer evaluation and rehabilitation projects worth more than $71 million,&quot Menon says. &quotThese projects range from large-diameter pipes of 48 to 156 inches, down to small, 8- to 10-inch diameters, along with significant manhole rehab work.&quot

An infrastructure assessment completed in 1998 identified nearly 35,000 linear feet of large-diameter sewer needing rehabilitation. Rehab or replacement also is needed for many of the city’s small-diameter sewers, with 90 percent of the city’s underground sanitary sewer infrastructure 8 to 15 inches in diameter, Menon says.

Beyond wastewater and stormwater infrastructure improvements, Indianapolis is a city on the move. The nation’s 12th largest city is building a new airport terminal to replace the existing terminal. A new stadium is under construction to replace the RCA Dome, and the dome will in turn make way for a convention center expansion. The Indiana Department of Transportation’s &quotMajor Moves&quot initiative, between 2006 and 2015, will invest nearly $12 billion on hundreds of new road construction, preservation, resurfacing, and other projects. In addition, the city recently welcomed a new Conrad Hotel downtown, a Hilton family luxury brand found today in only four U.S. cities: New York, Chicago, Miami, and Indianapolis.

Just a few blocks north of downtown, the beautiful and popular Fall Creek Place neighborhood stands today where abandoned houses, vacant lots, and urban decay once ruled. The neighborhood’s redevelopment recently won recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an example of &quotsmart growth.&quot

&quotThe demand for engineering, construction, and ancillary services is expected to grow significantly with the implementation of the program,&quot says Jim Garrard, the city’s economic development director and former DPW director. &quotIndianapolis is a great place to live, with an attractive business climate and a long-term commitment to carry out this infrastructure improvement program.&quot

Since 1999, the city has made steady progress in improving water quality, investing more than $200 million in early action projects to reduce sewer overflows. The pace of improvements will continue to increase, with sanitary capital investments reaching more than $170 million annually in 2008 and 2009, and stormwater capital approaching $8 million per year.

The city of Indianapolis remains committed to diversity within this program. The city will continue working with the project management team and potential contractors to ensure the certification, mentoring, and development of minority and women-owned firms. This commitment enhances the quality of vendors doing business with the city and expands the opportunities for diversity in the program. Accordingly, to improve diversity and opportunity in the business community, the city also established a 15-percent participation goal for minority business enterprises and an 8-percent goal for women’s business enterprises.

Additional information on the program, a list of projects planned through 2008, and guidance on how to work with the city are available online at www.indycleanstreams.org.

Carlton Ray is deputy director of engineering for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works.