June 21, 2006 - The Ohio Sierra Club, and the local Central Ohio Group, support active implementation of the Big Darby Accord. While facing challenges of funding and implementation, the Accord is the best hope for watershed areas of Hellbranch Run, Big Darby Creek, and Little Darby Creek in Franklin County. The group supports expanding the initiative to jurisdictions in Madison and Union Counties.

Successful Sierra Club campaigns have highlighted the role public utilities can play in preserving environmental quality & managing growth. Central sewer, stomwater, and water systems can cause environmental deterioration or positive change.

The Sierra Club thanks stakeholders who have worked for financially and environmentally responsible growth in this sensitive region: citizens, municipalities, organizations, and agencies that have supported the Accord.

The Accord basically acknowledges on-the-ground realities while promoting development. It accepts currently allowed zoning densities, which would result in a population of over 100,000 in the Accord area. It encourages dense growth around central sewers. It encourages cluster development to reduce costs and minimize damage. Most of the area suggested for conservation is already protected as parkland, by easements, or development restrictions on wetlands, floodplains, etc. While some may charge that the Accord is a radical change, in fact it simply reflects environmental and financial constraints. Hydric (wet) soils cannot be densely developed without central sewer, and municipal sewers cannot be laid everywhere.

The Accord allows alternative community based sewage treatment systems in areas outside the reach of public sewers. The Central Ohio Sierra Club strongly opposes package sewage treatment plants or land application methods unless owned by a city, county, or township and maintained to highest standards.

Challenges to the Accord include adoption by the ten jurisdictions in Franklin County, adequate funding to support the initiative, and enforcement. Clear incentives for landowners and municipalities to participate can increase acceptance. The Sierra Club urges residents and citizens to press for adoption of the Accord without delay or weakening of the agreement. It is the best, and perhaps the only, hope for preservation of any portion of the Darby watershed. Much has already been lost.