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Help fund sewer system updates

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
MUSA Council
MUSA Council

Joined: May 16 2008
Location: Middletown, Ohi
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    Posted: Apr 06 2016 at 7:03pm

Posted: 5:41 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Brown’s bill could help fund sewer system updates

By Michael D. Pitman and Ed Richter

Staff Writer


Legislation announced Wednesday by Sen. Sherrod Brown would help cities make vital updates to sewer systems without passing the billion dollar price tag onto consumers via rate hikes.

Nearly 80 communities throughout Ohio, including Middletown, are struggling to fund the expensive but vital renovations to update sewer systems to meet federal clean water laws.

Middletown implemented a 10 percent surcharge last fall as part of the city’s efforts to cover the costs of future sewer infrastructure improvements. That surcharge raised the typical residential sewer bill by $2.11 a month. It is expected to generate about $850,000 a year toward funding future sewer infrastructure improvements.

Water rates in the city were also raised by 7.5 percent to $97.44 per quarter last fall for 2016 and 2017, which costs a typical residential user an additional $2.22 per month.

Brown’s proposed Clean Water Affordability Act would relieve some of the financial pressure on cities like Middletown in meeting federal environmental regulations, said Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins.

“We are prepared to face the impact of compliance, but federal money to help bear the costs would lessen the burden for our residents,” Adkins said.

The bill would authorize $1.8 billion in federal grants to communities that need upgraded water systems to collect both sewage and storm water.

The combined sewage overflow systems in communities, like Middletown, carry both storm water and sewage and are overwhelmed in a heavy rain. That then dumps sewage into the same water systems that many communities use to draw drinking water.

“Every time it rains, these systems are overwhelmed, and untreated waste and sewer water is dumped straight into rivers, creeks and lakes — the same rivers, creeks, and lakes from which we draw our drinking water,” Brown, D-Ohio, said Wednesday. “The cost of treating that water is passed along to consumers in the form of higher water bills.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates an annual release of 850 billion gallons of untreated wastewater and storm water into United States waterways because of this problem.

In addition to addressing Middletown’s overflow issues, extensive rehabilitation of the city’s sewer system, nearly half of which is 50 years or older, is needed. Major improvements are also needed at the city’s wastewater treatment plant, where most of its components were installed in the 1950s.

Adkins said the cost to address the overflows, which are federal Clean Water Act violations, is estimated between $80 million and $250 million; to repair and rehabilitate the sewer system will cost an estimated $142 million; and to make the needed improvements at the wastewater treatment plant is estimated at $68 million.

A 2012 EPA survey found more than 70 Ohio communities with serious sewage overflow problems amounts to an investment of $7.5 billion over the next two decades.

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, is pushing a similar measure in the U.S. House of Representatives, but said that is limited to about 15 communities. Brown’s bill, which is being co-sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, impacts communities nationwide.

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VietVet View Drop Down
MUSA Council
MUSA Council

Joined: May 15 2008
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 07 2016 at 5:54am
So, if the state comes through and there is financial help for Middletown, will the city pro rate the cost of water and sewer, reducing the sewer surcharge and eliminate the additional $2.11 per month? How about the upcharge of $2.22 for the additional water rate?

I'm betting they keep it on the books.
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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