A History of Akron's Sewer System

Portions of Akron’s sewer system were constructed as combined sewers in the early 1900s, with some of the sewers being more than 84 years old (built prior to 1931), and 85% of them being more than 50 years old (built prior to 1964).

Approximately 25% of Akron's sewers are combined. These sewers allow sanitary sewers (what goes down the drain at your home or business) to combine with storm sewers (the sewers along streets and buildings that collect rainwater). For most of the 20th century, there would be times during rain events that combined sewer overflows (with a mix of stormwater and a small portion of sanitary sewage) discharge (flow) into our waterways, including the Cuyahoga River, the Little Cuyahoga and the Ohio & Erie Canal. Also, during these wet weather events, the Mud Run Pump Station could overflow to the Tuscarawas River.

In 1972, President Nixon signed the Clean Water Act to restore the physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters by preventing pollution from all sources. Over the four decades since it became law, the Clean Water Act has required municipalities to end pollution of America’s waterways. Significant progress was made in the 1970s and 1980s in updating wastewater treatment facilities and eliminating sanitary sewer overflows. Federal grants were provided to facilitate these improvements. In the early 1990s, the EPA focused its attention on the more than 770 cities nationwide to control combined sewer overflows that discharge to waterways without the help of Federal money.