Toledo's Sewer System Improvements to Cost about $315M

The city of Toledo, Ohio, has agreed to make extensive improvements to its sewer system that will significantly reduce the city’s longstanding sewage overflows into Swan Creek and the Maumee and Ottawa rivers, the city’s main waterways, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the state of Ohio recently announced.

The Clean Water Act settlement lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, modifies a 2002 agreement among the United States, state of Ohio and city of Toledo. The former agreement required that Toledo greatly expand its treatment plant and build a large storage basin to capture stormwater combined with sewage during high flows for later treatment. The parties understood that although the improvements were important, they were only the first phase of the work needed to bring Toledo into compliance. The 2002 agreement also required Toledo to conduct a detailed study of the combined portions of its sewer system and propose a plan of additional measures to eliminate or substantially reduce wet weather discharges from Toledo’s combined sewers. The new agreement requires the city to implement this plan, which both the federal and state environmental protection agencies have approved.

Toledo has agreed to expand its sewer system far beyond what it originally proposed at a cost estimated at more than $315 million. Once the sewer system expansion is fully constructed as required by the amended agreement, Toledo will reduce its discharges of untreated combined sewage from an average of 35 times in a year to an average of zero to four times per year, depending upon the watershed.

The amended agreement relieves Toledo from having to build certain additional equipment at its wastewater treatment plant as required by the 2002 agreement.

On the Maumee River looking toward Toledo

"The Environmental Protection Agency is committed to enforcing laws that protect the public from exposure to discharges of raw sewage. This agreement shows that when vigorous enforcement is combined with creative and determined negotiation, municipalities, the United States and states can find workable solutions to improving sewer systems that are inadequate for modern needs," said Susan Hedman, regional administrator for EPA Region 5.

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