On Jan. 10, Louisville (KY) MSD and city leaders broke ground on the Waterway Protection Tunnel, at the tunnel entrance site, which is at 12th and Rowan streets. The Waterway Protection Tunnel will capture 22 combined sewer overflow points that discharge 351 million gallons of mixtures of sewage and rainwater in a typical rainfall year that flow into the South Fork of Beargrass Creek and the Ohio River.
The tunnel will allow capture of 98 percent of these overflows and store the mixtures till the rain subsides and sewer system capacity is available. The mixture will then be pumped back into the sewer system and conveyed to Morris Forman Water Quality Treatment Center resulting in a safer, cleaner environment and waterways for our community.
The Waterway Protection Tunnel is part of MSD’s Consent Decree that includes building storage basins across the community to help reduce sewer overflows. The Waterway Protection Tunnel is an innovativer solution that replaces three storage basins originally planned 10 years ago to be located near Lexington Road and Payne Street; Story Avenue and Main Street; and, 13th and Rowan streets. Now, advances in technology and reductions in the cost to build the tunnel make it feasible to use a tunnel instead of three basins.
The tunnel will have more storage capacity than the three basins for approximately the same cost, but construction will be less disruptive to Louisville’s Main Street arts and business district, Butchertown’s business district, Irish Hills’s residential community, and area traffic during the two-year construction period. This design change also gives MSD the benefit of operational redundancy to one of its pumping stations that protect residents and businesses from flooding and sewer backups.
The tunnel project is $200 million and is part of MSD’s Consent Decree budget. It begins at 12th and Rowan
streets and continues east, southeast for 2.5 miles and ends near The Home of the Innocents on East Main
Street. The tunnel will be 20-ft in diameter and approximately 200 ft below the surface, which is more than 18 stories below ground. It can store up to 37 million gallons of combined rainwater and sewage.
The tunnel and its interceptor sewer lines will be substantially completed by Dec. 31, 2020, meeting all
requirements for certification with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for MSD’s Consent Decree.