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Improving Our Community Waterways Together

Waterway Protection Tunnel (Ohio River Tunnel)

Waterway Protection Tunnel ProjectWaterway Protection Tunnel Project

The Waterway Protection Tunnel (Ohio River Tunnel) is part of MSD’s Consent Decree that includes building storage basins across the community to help reduce sewer overflows.



The Tunnel is an innovated 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 central business district, Butchertown’s business district, Irish Hills’s residential community, and area traffic during the two-year construction period.



The Waterway Protection Tunnel will capture 22 combined sewer overflow points that now 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 our Morris Forman Water Quality Treatment Center resulting in a safer, cleaner environment and waterways for our community.

Building the Waterway Protection Tunnel

Construction on the tunnel shafts began in January 2018. 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 boring machine is expected to arrive onsite in September 2018. It will be lowered into the tunnel in pieces and reassembled for operation. The tunnel will be 20-feet in diameter and approximately 200 feet 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 December 31, 2020, meeting all requirements for certification with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for MSD’s Consent Decree.

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August 28, 2018 - Public Meeting Update August 28, 2018 - Public Meeting Update

MSD held an Update Meeting on August 28, 2018 concerning the Waterway Protection Tunnel project.  This meeting provided an opportunity learn more about the design and construction schedules.

Announcement Letter:

PowerPoint Presentation:

July 19, 2017 Stakeholder Update Meeting July 19, 2017 Stakeholder Update Meeting

Waterway Protection Tunnel (Ohio River Tunnel) Stakeholder Update Meeting

PowerPoint Presentation:

July 11, 2017 Public Update Meeting July 11, 2017 Public Update Meeting

MSD held an Update Meeting on July 11, 2017 concerning the Waterway Protection Tunnel project.  This meeting provided an opportunity learn more about the design and construction schedules.

Announcement Postcard:

PowerPoint Presentation:



October 18, 2016 Lexington and Payne CSO Basin - Public Update Meeting October 18, 2016 Lexington and Payne CSO Basin - Public Update Meeting

MSD held a Public Update Meeting on October 18, 2016 at the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana Building, 2115 Lexington Road, concerning the changes to the Lexington and Payne CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) Basin proposed for the area near Lexington Road and Payne Street.

Advancements in technology now allow the construction of a deep-rock tunnel, which will replace this basin. The Waterway Protection Tunnel (Ohio River Tunnel Project) offers the same storage capacity of the three proposed basins for about the same cost. 

The FULL video of the October 18, 2016 meeting can be viewed below.

To view overview presentation from the meeting, click the links below.

Announcement Flyer:

October 11, 2016 Story & Main CSO Basin - Public Update Meeting October 11, 2016 Story & Main CSO Basin - Public Update Meeting

MSD held a Public Update Meeting on October 11, 2016 at the American Printing House for the Blind, 1839 Frankfort Avenue, concerning the changes to the plans for the Story & Main CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) Basin proposed for construction in the area of Story Avenue and Main Street, in the Butchertown neighborhood.  

Advancements in technology now allow the construction of a deep-rock tunnel, which will replace this basin. The Waterway Protection Tunnel (Ohio River Tunnel Project) offers the same storage capacity of the three proposed basins for about the same cost. 

The FULL video of the October 11, 2016 meeting can be viewed below.

To view overview presentation from the meeting, click the links below.

Announcement Flyer: