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Central Ohio Group Issues

This article was submitted for the January / February 2005  issue of the newsletter.

Update on Central Ohio Sewers

By , Sierra Club Water Quality Coordinator, Columbus
I summarized in the last newsletter the four ways that raw sewage can escape into the environment: sanitary sewer overflows, combined sewer overflows, bypasses around treatment plants, and sewage backups in basements.  I also described the two consent orders between Columbus Division of Sewerage and Drainage and the Ohio EPA and described Columbus’s Program Dry Basement, which offers sewage backflow prevention valves to some homeowners.

In the November 2004 election, $300 million in sanitary sewer, water, and storm sewer bonds were approved by Columbus voters.  Shortly afterward, the Utilities Department asked City Council for rate hikes. Council passed the hikes, raising the average household bill for sewer and water bill over 8% - from about $505 to almost $550 per year.

 The Central Ohio Sierra Club monitored these developments, asking for strong financial oversight in how monies are spent and meaningful involvement of the public in the planning process.

The two Columbus wastewater (sewage) treatment plants have been operating under expired permits since 1998. Ohio EPA issued new draft permits in October.  The Sierra Club requested a public hearing and submitted comments.  We asked that a definition of wet weather overflows be included in the permits. We asked that they reinstate the limits of the previous permits on mercury and lead, and that they also reinstate the former testing frequency for nitrogen and heavy metals, in compliance with the anti-backsliding requirements of the Clean Water Act.  We also asked that they incorporate the two Consent Orders into the permits. The Consent Orders are legal documents that spell out a timeline for Columbus to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act.

The Sierra Club is organizing a tour of the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest in Central Ohio.  If you would like to go, contact . Include your name, email, telephone, number of people, and tell us whether you can go on a weekday or only on the weekend.

 

See the article, “EPA’s New Sewage Dumping Policy”, in this issue of The Ohio Sierran. US EPA has proposed permit changes that would allow routine municipal discharges of largely untreated sewage during rain events.

CONTRIBUTE TO THE

CENTRAL OHIO

SIERRA CLUB

SEWERS CAMPAIGN!

We have a generous donor who will again match all donations up to a total of $2000 in 2005.

On November 29, Columbus passed a water and sewer rate increase that would raise the average bill by about $40 per year. The Sierra Club is working to see that our ratepayer dollars are spent in an economic and environmentally beneficial manner. Please help by writing a tax-deductible check to the Sierra Club Foundation.  Contact the Sierra Club Treasurer for more details.

 

The two Columbus wastewater (sewage) treatment plants have been operating under expired permits since 1998.
The Sierra Club is organizing a tour of the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest in Central Ohio.

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