Mayor Horrigan Gives Update on Federal Consent Decree
Since 2014, the City of Akron has been under one of the strictest Federal consent decrees in the nation. Akron was tasked with completely overhauling the combined sewer overflow system with the goal of drastically cleaning up our waterways. And that's exactly what we've done. Akron has completed 24 of the 26 projects listed in our consent decree. We are working on the 25th, the Northside Interceptor Tunnel. Once that tunnel is complete, Akron will be capturing 99% of wet weather flow. That means we will be capturing and treating more than 2.3 Billion Gallons of water which previously went untreated back into our waterways. 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 and now the U.S. EPA wants us to build yet another facility, the EHRT, at a whopping $209 Million which would only potentially treat three overflows a year. And how much would that improve the waterways? A paltry 0.08%. We've run the numbers and it's clear, if we have to build the EHRT, rates will have to be increased 20% higher than if we don't have to build it.
The city has sent a formal dispute to the U.S. EPA asking them to consider our proposal which would eliminate the EHRT and allow for alternative projects which would cost significantly less while more drastically improving our waterways. This is our call to action and we need our community to rally and let the EPA know what this burden means for all of us and what an increased burden would do to you and, most importantly, your family.
Local governments, nonprofits, businesses and public officials: download these documents to send a letter through the US Mail in support or bring a model resolution to your board or council to show your support for Akron’s fourth amendment. Addresses are listed on the letter of support. Reach out to Mayor@akronohio.gov with any questions.
Send Your Own Letter to the EPA
Join Mayor Horrigan and send a letter to Administrator Regan to let your voice be heard. The U.S. EPA needs to hear from Akron's ratepayers about the burden this project is taking on you and your families. Simply click the link below to open a new starter email, add your story, and include your name at the bottom. Please help our efforts and support Akron's 4th Amendment.
Dear Administrator Regan,
I am writing to you from Akron, Ohio, where the US EPA has said that my city needs to build a remote treatment facility along our Towpath Trail for an outlandish $209 million that has not been activated for over a year. Building this facility will only have a 0.04% impact on bacteria levels to address recreational uses of the river, but the river is unsafe for recreational use at times that the facility would be activated. Instead of an unnecessary facility along the Towpath, Akron has proposed to eliminate failing septic systems in the watershed that create unhealthy recreational conditions on a daily basis. Why is EPA insisting on a project that would substantially raise our rates when we can spend much less to ensure clean water every day for all?
Please consider the impact of your decision both on Akron ratepayers and those of us who enjoy the river. I hope you’ll join the Ohio EPA in supporting Akron’s proposal.
Our Proposed Plan
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.
The Akron Cares Program
The Akron Cares Program is in place to provide relief to those rate payers who are having difficulty paying their Akron utility bills. So far over $1.3 Million has been spent through the program to help Akron residents who can't afford the high cost of their sewer/water bills.
Below is a map that shows the Akron Cares Program and where those funds are being utilized the most. It also shows the areas that the federal government has defined as "disadvantaged communities." As you can clearly see, the areas that the federal government is defining through their own metrics as "disadvantaged communities" are the exact areas where residents are struggling the most to pay their high sewer/water bills, further showing the inequitable burden of these projects on Akron's most vulnerable communities.