City Of Akron Files Formal Dispute With U.S. EPA Over Proposed Fourth Amendment
Akron, Ohio, July 18, 2023 — Today, at a press conference at the OCIT Control Building, Mayor Horrigan announced the City of Akron has begun a formal dispute resolution process with the U.S. EPA over the city’s proposed fourth amendment to the consent decree. The city’s proposal would eliminate the need to build an expensive and unnecessary Enhanced High-Rate Treatment Facility (EHRT) next to the Towpath Trail. Instead, Akron has suggested alternative projects which would cost less than the EHRT and more significantly improve the quality of our waterways. View Akron’s proposal here.
“The U.S. EPA and the Department of Justice would like our residents and ratepayers to pay over $200 million to build a facility that would only be used at most three times per year,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “The benefit of this building is almost non-existent. Meanwhile, after we complete the Northside Interceptor Tunnel, Akron will already be capturing and treating 99% of all wet weather flows. That means over 2.3 Billion gallons of water which previously went unchecked back into our waterways will now be treated. This is a massive environmental feat and one we all should be incredibly proud of. But it has come with a cost. The price tag for these improvements is already at $1 Billion. When compared with the amazing work that we’ve done so far and how much we’ve improved our waterways, I cannot justify an additional $200+M for nearly no benefit. This is complete agency overreach and quite frankly, I know this community is tired of it. Today, I am imploring the U.S. EPA to reconsider our proposal to eliminate the EHRT and move forward with our alternative projects. I am asking our community to rally together and make their concerns known to the EPA.”
The city’s modeling data shows that if Akron has to build the EHRT, sewer rates would have to be raised 20% more than if the city is allowed to move forward without the EHRT.
The city has offered four alternative projects that would only total about a quarter of the cost of the EHRT:
Reduce the typical year discharge to 62 million gallons by treating wastewater at the existing Cuyahoga Street facility;
Sewer the Village of Peninsula in the heart of our National Park;
Conduct the necessary studies to begin the process of providing sanitary sewer service to the Sawyerwood neighborhood of Springfield Township; and
Address sanitary sewer overflows to Springfield Lake from the Village of Lakemore.
The last three projects are designed to address persistent, daily bacteria loadings to the Cuyahoga River watershed that threaten recreational uses of local waterways from the Springfield Lake Outlet all the way to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Conversely, as of today’s press conference, the City of Akron has not had a single overflow at the OCIT site in 498 days, meaning over the last year, the EHRT would not have been activated at all and would have had no impact on improving our waterways.
Akron has completed 24 of the 26 projects listed in the federal consent decree. Progress is being made on the 25th project, the Northside Interceptor Tunnel.
To learn more about the city’s consent decree and to send your own email to U.S. EPA Regional Director Michael Regan, please visit www.akronwaterwaysrenewed.com.