Summary: As a City founded over 150 years ago, much of Atchison was originally built utilizing a  single, combined sewer system. That infrastructure was great in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, but not so great following industrialization, the Clean Water Act, and subsequent water quality standards.A combined sewer system works just fine during dry weather when all the wastewater flows to the Wastewater Treatment Plant and is cleaned up prior to discharge. However, during wet weather, the capacity of the combined system is flooded, resulting in overflows of untreated sewage into White Clay Creek and the Missouri River.

About 10 years ago, the EPA and the Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) got serious about forcing Atchison to make more substantial progress toward remediation of the combined sewer system. The City and KDHE engaged in negotiations to finalize a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAO). The CAO became effective on December 14, 2011 and contains a series of requirements for improvements and progress that must be achieved within certain timelines.

The CAO specifically requires that the City of Atchison advance “green solutions” to limit the stormwater runoff that winds up in the combined sewer system. Because everyone loves trees, the City will satisfy the green solutions requirement with an annual street tree planting program. The street tree program started in 2016, which installed four street trees on 5th Street in downtown between Main and Commercial.

Even without the CAO, street trees are an investment that pays huge dividends in the long term. This article from the the Kansas City Planning Studio of Gould Evans explains in great detail all the benefits of street tree investments. This article from Strong Towns does the same.

Cost: To preserve the integrity of the bidding process, we avoid publishing detailed engineer’s estimates prior to the bidding process.

Funding: This project is funded by the City of Atchison Wastewater/CSO Capital Improvement Fund at $20,000 per year.

Location: Various locations in downtown Atchison

Contractor: AB Creative (tree grates), L&L Construction (concrete), Urban Lawncare (tree installation)

Status: Complete

Construction Start Date: Spring 2017

Completion Date: Fall 2017

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