General Project Information
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Q. What is the Toledo Waterways Initiative?
A. The Toledo Waterways Initiative is a program to significantly reduce and in some areas eliminate the discharge of combined sewers into our local waterways.
Q. Why is this program being implemented?
A. This program is the result of a Consent Decree – a court order to make improvement to our sewer system to resolve a lawsuit between the City of Toledo and the Ohio and USEPA.
Q. Do we have to do this, and if we don’t what are the consequences?
A. Yes, we are mandated by a Federal Court Order to implement the improvements called out in the Consent Decree. If we do not comply the City would be in violation of the courts orders and subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines and penalties. Some of these penalties would be one time fines; others could be levied on a per day basis.
Q. By what authority was the agreement with the Federal Government entered into?
A. In June of 2002 the question of whether or not to enter into the consent decree was but on ballot for a vote of the people. The results of that vote showed overwhelming support for the City to enter into the Consent Decree with the Federal Government.
Q. How much will this cost?
A. Since the project is spread over such a long time (about 19 years), it is difficult to put an exact price on it. Most recent estimates are that the program will run about $500 million dollars.
Q. Is the City the only City to have to do this?
A. No, the City of Toledo is one of over 400 communities around the country that are in the process of making these upgrades to their sewer systems and waste water treatment plants. Other Ohio Cities such as Cleveland and Columbus are under similar orders with projected costs in the billions of dollars.
Q. Is this going to fix the flooding problems in Toledo?
A. No, the program is an environmental project to keep sewage out of our rivers and streams. The City has taken the position that as these projects are engineered that wherever possible facilities and pipelines will be sized to reduce the possibility of flooding in the areas that are serviced while still meeting the goals of the consent decree. The City continues to utilize storm water utility money and sanitary sewer fund money to make improvements to reduce the likelihood of flooding in neighborhoods.
Q. How will this be paid for?
A. The City has spent a significant amount of time and effort to secure low interest loans and grant money from many sources. Some of these are the Ohio EPA Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance , The Ohio Water Development Authority, Ohio Public Works Commission, Water Pollution Control Loan Funds , Federal Grants, Army Corps of Engineer Grants and funds procured from various federal budgets.
Q. How will the loans be paid off?
A. The loans will be paid off using money paid by Customers of the Department Public Utilities that pay sewer bills. There have been and will continue to be periodic increases in the sewer rates to pay on the loans taken out by the City to fund the program. The City has also been awarded a large number of grants that do not have to be paid back.
Q. How much work is there and how much has been done?
A. The program started in late 2002. Already over $200 million dollars worth of work have been completed. In Point Place, three direct connections from the sanitary sewer to the Ottawa River have been eliminated. In the River Road / Brookford area, two overflows from the sanitary sewers to the Maumee River have been plugged. At the Bay View Water Reclamation Plant, the wet weather capacity of the plant was increased from about 200 million gallons per day to 400 million gallons per day. Since the plant expansion was completed in 2006, there have been no untreated overflows of sewage from the plant to the Maumee River.
Q. What is left to do?
A. The City is currently in the planning and design phases of 25 projects that will address combined sewer overflows into the Maumee River, Ottawa River and the Swan Creek. Construction has begun on several of these projects with more construction occurring between now and 2020. The original Consent Decree called for the work to be completed by 2016 but through negotiations with the USEPA the City has obtained an extension until 2020 for completion of the projects. This extension allows for the City to spread the costs out over additional years to reduce the required rate increases to its rate payers and also allows the City to optimize improvements to further reduce the number and volume of overflows as compared to the original proposed implementation plan from 2005.
Q. Who can I contact for information regarding construction in my neighborhood?
A. Information on current Toledo Waterways Construction can be found on other pages of this website under Section 3. Construction for other parts of the City may be available at http://toledo.oh.gov/ (Public Services – Transportation or Public Utilities – Engineering Services Departments) or the Ohio Department of Transportation. When in doubt, contact us and we will put you in touch with the proper entity if we can’t answer your question.