CINCINNATI, OHIO, Jan. 27, 2014 -- The U.S. Water Alliance has awarded the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) the 2014 U.S. Water Prize for its green infrastructure strategy to reduce water pollution, beautify neighborhoods and help spark economic development.
"MSD is leading the way by rethinking watershed strategies and implementing wet-weather solutions that serve as a national model to utilities around the country," said Ben Grumbles, President of the U.S. Water Alliance. "Their green infrastructure strategy is winning support from regulators, environmentalists and businesses."
The U.S. Water Prize was initiated four years ago by the U.S. Water Alliance to highlight organizations with strategies that promote the value of water and the power of innovating and integrating water sustainability solutions. MSD was nominated for the award by the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission. Nominations were reviewed by an independent, volunteer panel of judges respected as leaders in the fields of water and environmental policy including representatives from Virginia Tech and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
MSD is under a federal mandate to treat, capture, or remove 85 percent of the annual 11 billion gallons of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and eliminate all sanitary overflows. To meet this requirement, MSD launched Project Groundwork, a multi-year initiative composed of hundreds of sewer improvement and stormwater mitigation projects. Many of the strategies include green infrastructure techniques.
The most significant and large-scale effort is in the Lick Run watershed, which is located in the Lower Mill Creek on Cincinnati's west side. Instead of a traditional large-diameter tunnel, MSD has received federal approval to implement a "sustainable approach" with green elements to make an above-ground investment in the South Fairmount community that can lead to economic growth and neighborhood revitalization. Projects such as Lick Run are becoming a model for other urban communities under consent decree mandates.
MSD has completed 95 of 116 projects required under Phase I of MSD's consent decree program and has met all required milestones, thus avoiding any stipulated penalties. It is projected that MSD will complete all Phase-I projects within the total estimated budget of $1.145 billion.
The Alliance for Water Efficiency, American Water and Orange County Water District and Sanitation District were also named 2014 Water Prize winners at the California Irrigation Institute Conference held Jan. 23-24 in Sacramento, Calif. The winners will be honored in an awards ceremony on April 7, 2014, at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington D.C. The recognition program will be attended by more than 300 water leaders from around the United States.
The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD or MSDGC) serves the wastewater removal and treatment needs of residents and businesses in Hamilton County, Ohio. The Board of County Commissioners of Hamilton County, Ohio established MSD in 1968 pursuant to Section 6117 of the Ohio Revised Code. Under the 1968 agreement, the City of Cincinnati agreed to operate and solely manage MSD’s daily operations and sustainability. For more information, visit www.msdgc.org.