MSD’s Waterway Protection Tunnel exhibit debuts at Kentucky Science Center

MSD’s Waterway Protection Tunnel exhibit debuts at Kentucky Science Center
The new exhibit, called "Explore the Core” allows visitors to go back in time with the help of Kentucky’s geology. (Source: MSD)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Visitors can now travel 300 million years back in time with the brand new Metro Sewer District Waterway Protection Tunnel exhibit at the Kentucky Science Center.

The Waterway Protection Tunnel exhibit is an interactive display where visitors can “Explore the Core” and go back in time with the help of Kentucky’s geology.

Before starting construction on MSD’s Waterway Protection Tunnel, geologists drilled down 200 feet or more along the path of the tunnel and pulled samples of rock for analysis to help plan the tunnel’s depth and location.

More than 5 billion gallons of rainwater and wastewater overflow into our waterways each year. MSD’s Waterway Protection Tunnel is an innovative way to store some of this overflow of rainwater and wastewater underground and hold it until sewer system capacity is available. The $200 million tunnel project is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2020. It is one part of MSD’s $1.15 billion Consent Decree that will reduce sewer overflows by 2024.

“MSD is proud to partner with Kentucky Science Center to bring our Waterway Protection Tunnel Project to people of all ages," MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott said. "This Tunnel is the largest construction project in the city that most folks will never see. But they will all benefit from the safe, clean waterways the tunnel will provide.”

“Kentucky Science Center is excited to partner with MSD on this exhibit that shows the amazing science that goes on all around us. The innovative thinking that goes into a project like this is exactly the type of problem solving that we encourage our guests to use as they Do Science in their everyday lives,” Jo Haas, CEO Kentucky Science Center.

When it rains, the tunnel is hard at work protecting Beargrass Creek, the Ohio River and neighborhoods from combined sewer overflows. Rainwater enters the combined sewer system through stormwater pipes and catch basins. This added water can overwhelm the sewer system sending a combination of wastewater and rainwater into our waterways.

The Waterway Protection Tunnel will capture and store 55 million gallons, equivalent of 83 Olympic-size pools, of wastewater and stormwater during rain events and gradually release it back into the sewer system when treatment capacity is available. The mixture of rainwater and wastewater then flows through the sewer system to MSD’s Morris Forman Water Quality Treatment Center for proper treatment and release into the Ohio River.

MSD has thousands of linear feet of rock core samples from the tunnel project stored in a southern Indiana warehouse. They act as a library of sorts for contractors to access as the project proceeds. The samples highlight the history of what is now Louisville; each is unique and contain many fossils.

Upon completion of the tunnel, the core samples likely will be shown in local science museums, and some donated to the Kentucky Geological Survey’s Well Sample and Core Library. Many of the fossils found in the core samples are similar to those seen at the fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio State Park just across the river in Clarksville.

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