Combined Sewers Update

The City released the following Press Release this week regarding the long term control plan to deal with our combined sewers.  Senator Brown’s bill has a lot of hurdles to jump through to become law and Congress would need to fund the process, but any help to our citizens in the large costs associated with this project would be welcome news indeed.

For Immediate Release

City of Middletown Supports Sherrod Brown Proposed Bill

The City of Middletown has been made aware of a legislative proposal by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio to help financially distressed communities update aging water and sewer infrastructure. The proposal is the Clean Water Affordability Act. The bill is of particular importance to the City as it negotiates the resolution of an ongoing discussion with the United States EPA (USEPA) and the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) over Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) from the City into the Great Miami River. The proposed bill provides for grant programs for the planning, design and construction to control CSOs.

CSOs are the result of combined sewer systems constructed in the period from the late 1800’s into the 1960’s. Combined sewers collect and pass both storm water and wastewater from the City to its Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) on Oxford State Road. From time to time, in periods of significant precipitation, these sewers will become over-burdened and overflow into the Great Miami River. The USEPA considers these overflows violations of the Clean Water Act.

In an effort to avoid a court battle with the USEPA, the City has engaged in discussions to determine how to reduce and control these overflows. The initial proposals advanced by the USEPA included a price tag exceeding $200 million. Under present laws, this cost would be borne by the users of the City’s sewer system over a prolonged period of time. The costs of these improvements (Long Term Control Plan or LTCP) along with rehabilitation needed to maintain the City’s WWTP and aging sewer infrastructure will cause water and sewer rates in the City to increase dramatically over the next five to twenty-five years.

City Council and City administration have been warning local residents about these significant future costs for the better portion of ten years. As the negotiations reach fruition, these costs will become a reality. City Manager Doug Adkins said, “We have tried to prepare our consumers for the impact of the Long Term Control Plan for many years…long before my tenure as City Manager and even as an employee of Middletown. City staff and our consultants have spent a significant amount of time addressing this issue and working with the federal government to develop a plan that improves water quality in a sensible and reasonable way. We believe we are closing in on a workable plan, but it will be very expensive, possibly more than doubling the average water bill.”

As the discussions continue, the City is hopeful that this bill and legislation like it will provide a relief valve to the financial pressure placed on cities like Middletown and its citizens by the federal government’s effort to enforce its environmental regulations. Adkins said, “We are prepared to face the impact of compliance, but federal money to help bear the costs would lessen the burden for our residents.”

Founded in 1886, the City of Middletown is located in the heart of the Southwestern Ohio Metropolitan Region between Cincinnati and Dayton. With a strong manufacturing past and a tight-knit community, Middletown takes pride in its bright past and even brighter future.

 

 

 

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