EPA, Ohio reach CWA Settlement with Toledo

The Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Ohio recently announced a federal court filing of a Clean Water Act settlement.

The Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Ohio recently announced a federal court filing of a Clean Water Act settlement in which the city of Toledo, OH, agreed to make extensive improvements to its sewage treatment plant and its sewage collection and transportation system. Improvements are expected to cost at least $433 million over the next 14 years, regulators said.

The proposed consent decree was filed Aug. 28 in US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and is subject to a 30-day comment period.

The settlement requires Toledo to end its long-standing practice of discharging raw sewage into Swan Creek and the Maumee and Ottawa Rivers. Under the settlement, Toledo will more than double sewage treatment capacity, build a basin to hold excess sewage and improve its sewage collection and treatment system.

Regulators said that the upgrades will be carried out under federal and state supervision, and the improvements should eliminate most of the raw sewage discharges from the city's treatment plant and sewers, even during peak flow times.

Because of the high price tag of the work involved, the city held a special referendum July 9 in which the voters overwhelmingly approved the settlement (78% in favor).

In addition to the sewer-system repairs, the city will pay a $500,000 penalty and spend at least $1 million to undertake two environmental improvement projects: restoring and providing public access to wetlands in the Duck Creek basin near the east bank of the Maumee River, and cleaning up contaminated properties near the Ottawa River to allow for further business development in an area of newly developed industrial enterprises.

"This agreement reflects a joint effort to correct a long-standing problem," said Ohio Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery. "We applaud the city's willingness to commit to a long-term solution that will benefit citizens and the environment."

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