In a federal court settlement, the city of Akron, Ohio, agreed to make extensive improvements to its sewer system to reduce or eliminate sewage overflows that have long polluted the Cuyahoga River and its tributaries According to the consent decree lodged under the Clean Water Act in federal court, the city is required to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to reduce or eliminate (i) untreated overflows of sanitary sewage and storm water from its combined sewer system; and (ii) bypasses around secondary treatment at the wastewater treatment plant.
The city of Akron’s sewage and wastewater discharges flow into the Cuyahoga River, the Little Cuyahoga River, the Ohio Canal and their tributaries and contribute to impairment of water quality in those waterways. The Cuyahoga River, an American Heritage River, flows through Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Cleveland metropolitan area, to Lake Erie.
Yes, the same Cuyahoga River caught fire in the 1970s because it was so polluted with flammable wastes from the city of Cleveland’s industrial community. So, in 30 years the Cuyahoga River is now an American Heritage River. Imagine how nice the Cuyahoga River will be, once the city of Akron stops dumping water pollution, including raw sanitary wastes in it!
As part of the settlement, the city will perform extensive analyses to identify appropriate methods of controlling or eliminating these discharges. After an opportunity for public participation, the federal and state governments will evaluate the results and require the city to implement appropriate improvements at various milestones, achieving full operation no later than Oct. 15, 2028.
Wow! It is simply amazing that the federal and state government conclude that twenty plus years is needed before the city of Akron finally fully complies with the Clean Water Act. That is a pretty outrageous situation and a sad statement on the state of environmental compliance in America, as of November 2009.
In addition to the projects identified through the year-long analysis, over the next six years, the city will expand capacity at its wastewater treatment plant to allow for treatment of at least an additional 20 million gallons of wastewater per day.
Also, over the next eight years, the city will construct separate sewer lines for five combined sewer outfall points. Finally, the city will engage in comprehensive capacity, maintenance and emergency response programs to improve sewer system performance and to eliminate releases from the sewer collection system, including basement backups, releases into buildings, and onto property.
As part of the settlement, the city will pay a $500,000 civil penalty and provide $900,000 to fund the removal of the Brecksville (Route 82) Dam on the Cuyahoga River, as a state supplemental environmental project. EPA estimates that the dam removal will contribute to a significant improvement in water quality in the Lower Cuyahoga River.
Why are the ratepayers of the city of Akron paying civil penalties to the U.S. Treasury? What a waste of taxpayer money! Instead of taking 20+ years to comply with the basic provisions of the Clean Water Act, take that $1.4 million dollars and speed up compliance measures.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, is subject to a 60-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree and a summary of the agreement are available on the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decress.html.