Friday, March 1, 2013

Elimination of MSD overflow credits should make development easier

An Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) requirement of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) to use combined sewer overflow credits for new development has been eliminated, lowering building costs for prospective developers.

Part of a 2002 federal consent decree requiring MSD to capture, treat or remove 85 percent of combined sewer overflows and eliminate all sanitary sewer overflows, the connection credits required MSD to remove four gallons of stormwater flow from the combined sewer system for every one gallon added. By doing so, MSD could better regulate capacity and reduce combined sewer overflows that can overwhelm the system and send untreated wastewater into the region's waterways.

As a result of the credits, development in the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was slowed because developers often had to build separate stormwater and wastewater sewers, driving up their costs.

Now, MSD will only be required to submit to the Ohio EPA an annual summary of new and removed system overflows, which it is seeking to correct through its $3.2 billion Project Groundwork.

"This is a win for the City and MSD," MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott said in a prepared release. "Development in Cincinnati will now be easier to facilitate and more affordable as we continue to improve the local economy and our environment."

"MSD should be commended for the work they've done to make this possible," said Odis Jones, Cincinnati's economic development director. "This action will eliminate a complicated step placed on developers."

MSD collects and treats more than 180 million gallons of sewage daily from 43 municipalities, villages and townships in Greater Cincinnati through 3,000 miles of sanitary or combined sewers.

Project Groundwork, launched in 2009 and scheduled for completion in 2018, includes 109 separate construction projects, a three-year action plan for the Lower Mill Creek, and various special projects to address, reduce, or eliminate combined sewer overflows. A second phase, which will begin after 2018, includes an additional 250 construction projects throughout Hamilton County.

"MSD has made great strides to reduce combined and sanitary sewer overflows to create a cleaner, healthier and more environmentally and economically sustainable community," Parrott said. "The decision by the Ohio EPA to lift the sewer credits requirement is a direct reflection of the great progress we've made under Project Groundwork."

Previous reading on BC:
Lower Mill Creek overflow proposals submitted to regulators (12/28/12)
County hearings on Lower Mill Creek sewer alternatives underway (9/26/12)
MSD completes Lick Run plan (5/30/12)
Cincinnati economic development will 'actively support' Lick Run businesses (4/9/12)
Workshop attendees overwhelmingly support Lick Run daylighting (4/3/12)