Frequently Asked Questions
Development and population growth has caused our aging sewer system to become overloaded during heavy rains, discharging untreated waste into our waterways. Over time, this has negatively affected water quality. The Toledo Waterways Initiative (TWI) is the result of an agreement between the City of Toledo and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fix this problem.
Utility customers of the City of Toledo are paying for the TWI through charges on their sewer bills. Toledo also has secured $22 million in federal and state grants to offset the cost of the initiative and continues to pursue additional project funding.
How does this program help the environment?
Keeping contaminants and floating trash out of our waterways has obvious health, environmental and aesthetic benefits. Cleaner water is also helping restore habitats for fish and wildlife. River restrictions have been lifted in 14 areas where the TWI has closed sewer overflow points. In 2011, a health advisory was lifted for a section of the Ottawa River.
Not entirely, but the TWI will eliminate the majority of local untreated sewage from our rivers. Unfortunately, agricultural runoff, trash, waste from landfills and raw – and sometimes toxic – sewage from sources upstream may continue to add pollution to our waterways.
It may, even though flood control is not the goal of the program. As TWI projects are engineered, facilities and pipelines are sized to reduce the potential of flooding wherever possible, while still meeting the goals of the program. Increasing the system’s capacity to contain sewage overflow until it can be treated at the wastewater treatment plant decreases the odds of basement backups. However, each property owner’s experience depends on the relative depth of their basement to the depth of the sewer serving their house, among other factors.
Click here to learn more about assistance that may be available from the City of Toledo if you’ve had a flood in your basement.
Possibly. As TWI projects are engineered, facilities are installed and pipelines are sized to reduce the possibility of street flooding wherever possible, while still meeting the goals of the program.
Any public improvement has the potential to positively impact property values. The TWI may indirectly benefit property values; it will not have any negative impact. With each project, the TWI is restoring parks, streets, medians and public areas to the same as, or in many cases, better condition than before the construction.
No. The storage basins are equipped with flushing systems that keep waste matter from being left behind after a storm. In addition, most facilities are engineered to accommodate odor control mechanisms if needed.
For general inquiries about the TWI project call 419-720-0929. For water and sewer service interruptions, Call the City of Toledo Utilities dispatch line at 419-242-5040.
Agricultural runoff – The runoff into surface waters of herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and the nitrate and phosphate components of fertilizers and animal wastes from agricultural land and operations. Considered a non-point source (NPS) of water pollution.
Ballasted flocculation – High-rate treatment process used at wet-weather treatment facility at Bay View Wastewater Treatment Plant. Used specifically to treat flow from storm events.
COT – City of Toledo.
Clean Water Act – Federal law that establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.
Consent decree – The legal agreement resulting from the lawsuit between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Toledo.
CPAC – Community Program Advisory Committee, which provides input to the TWI program.
CRP – City responsible person.
CSO – Combined sewer overflow. Occurs when a combined sanitary and storm sewer, typically found in older parts of cities and villages, is overwhelmed with rain and bypasses the sewer line to the wastewater treatment plant, flowing directly into a waterway.
Dewatering – Removal of ground water or surface water from a construction site.
FD – Final design.
Flocculation – A process of removing solids from liquids. In the treatment of wastewater, it is removing harmful substances from sewage so they can be treated separately.
Geotech study – An evaluation of site conditions through soil boring, sampling and testing.
Hydraulic grade line (HGL) – The level at which rising water will trigger a pressure-relief valve in a small, vertical tube connected to a pipe that is under pressure. Used to relieve pressure in pipes during heavy rains.
Long-term control plan – The final and largest piece of the TWI program which identifies how combined sewer overflows will be addressed.
NAC – Neighborhood Advisory Councils, which provide input to TWI managers on specific projects.
Non-point source (NPS) pollution – Pollution from diffused sources such as runoff from agricultural areas draining into a river or wind-borne debris deposited in waterways.
NTP – Notice to proceed. A construction term which means the project can begin.
Outfall – The place where a sewer, drain or stream discharges.
Plant bypass – Occurred during heavy rains when sewage couldn’t be contained at the wastewater treatment plant and was forced into the Maumee River. This problem has been eliminated through expansions at the plant
PDR – Preliminary design report.
Point source pollution – A single, identifiable source of air, water, thermal, noise or light pollution.
SSD – Sanitary sewer discharge. Takes place when rainwater enters the sanitary sewer system through cracks in underground pipes and through gutters, downspouts and drains connected illegally to the system. These have been eliminated by the TWI.
Surface runoff – Water flow that occurs when the soil is saturated and excess water from rain, melt water or other sources flows over the land, emptying into ditches, streams and rivers.
The Toledo Waterways Initiative (TWI) program encompasses more than 45 separate projects over the course of 18 years, at a total estimated cost of $527 million. This bar shows how close this program is to completion.