Mayor Horrigan Gives Update on Federal Consent Decree and Remaining Projects
Since 2014, the City of Akron has been under one of the strictest Federal consent decrees in the nation. The City was tasked with completely overhauling the combined sewer overflow system with the goal of drastically cleaning up Akron’s waterways. To date, the City has completed 23 of the 26 required projects with one more currently under construction. The City of Akron is seeking a modification to the two remaining Akron Waterways Renewed! Projects. The proposed changes would provide the same essential environmental benefits but is estimated to save ratepayers an additional $140 million.
Despite the detailed technical and financial justifications supporting Akron’s proposal, Akron recently received word that the U.S. EPA will not support the proposed changes. When asked about the basis for the denial, the U.S. EPA refused to answer the City’s questions around equity. Consequently, Akron entered into an informal resolution process with the U.S. EPA. That process came to a close on Friday, April 15, 2022 without a resolution. Akron now has 30 days from the 15th to notify the U.S. EPA of moving forward with the formal dispute process as outlined in the consent decree. U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA would then have 45 days to serve Akron with their respective written statements of position. If there is still not a resolution at the end of the 45 days, the City will file a motion for judicial review with the court. This would most likely occur in July 2022.
“While we are extremely proud of the progress we have made to clean up our waterways, it has come at a burdensome and inequitable cost,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Our efforts to date have already resulted in keeping 2.2 billion gallons of untreated overflow and partially treated bypasses out of our waterways in a typical year. But Akron’s most vulnerable residents are paying the cost of this unaffordable burden. At every available opportunity, I’ve worked to mitigate the financial impact on our ratepayers including getting the first two amendments to the consent decree passed, utilizing innovated financing and spending over $1.3M for our Akron Cares program so far. This is still not enough, which is why we are proposing a third amendment.”