It’s not unusual for Allen Mounts, director of Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, to lose sleep at night pondering all the things that put the quality of Evansville’s water at risk.
“We have a massive infrastructure, but most of these assets are out of sight and out of mind,” says Mounts. “I spend every opportunity I have to raise the awareness of the risks we have with our water system and the investments we will need to make for decades to protect our water quality.”
Mounts holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern Indiana. He has been with the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility for two and a half years.
“I have heard people say that the water tastes better today than it did many years ago,” says Mounts. “I think Evansville water tastes great, and we do a great job of filtering and purifying it.”
Mounts is charged with implementing Renew Evansville, which will help the city meet a federal mandate to comply with the Clean Water Act. The mandate will eliminate combined sewer overflows. The project will be the largest capital improvement project in the city’s history. The city’s $540 million proposal was not approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, and negotiations continue.
“The EPA has been pushing for fewer combined sewer overflows, where sewage goes into the Ohio River,” says Mounts. “The EPA has said they want zero overflows, and that is just unaffordable as far as the city is concerned.”
As director of utilities, Mounts oversees a water treatment plant, two wastewater treatment plants, and engineering and support staff. The Evansville Water and Sewer Utility serves and sells water to more than 60,000 customers in Vanderburgh, Warrick, and Gibson counties.
Mounts’ responsibilities include overseeing 1,000 miles of water lines (including 600 miles of original cast iron lines that date back more than 90 years), 800 miles of sewer lines, and numerous water towers and reservoirs.
Mounts admits last winter was particularly brutal. So far this year, the utility has had 451 water main breaks; roughly double the number for last year. The approximate cost of the repairs and the 250 million gallons of lost water from the polar vortex period was $500,000.
For more information about Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, visit ewsu.com.