The city of Portsmouth and the village of New Boston are listed as having projects that fall under those in which “Combined Sewer Overflow” issues are to be addressed should legislation to be introduced by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) passes.
With nearly 70 Ohio communities struggling to afford costly, but necessary, renovations to sewer systems, Brown announced on a conference call with the news media Wednesday, plans to introduce legislation that would provide relief from high water rates to affected Ohio communities.
“These localities have combined sewage overflow systems which carry both the storm water and sewage,” Brown said. “Every time there’s heavy rains these systems are overwhelmed and untreated waste and storm water are dumped straight into our rivers, creeks and lakes – the same rivers, creeks and lakes from which we draw our drinking water.”
Brown also released a county-by-county map of Ohio communities with combined sewage overflow systems – outdated sewer systems that collect sewage and storm water, leading to overflows that can pollute drinking water.
“The EPA estimates that across the country 800 billion gallons of waste water and storm water from combined systems are released into our rivers, lakes and streams each year,” Brown said.
Brown said upgrading the systems is expensive, but communities cannot afford to wait.
“That’s why federal guidelines require local governments to renovate outdated sewer systems, but our communities through higher rates can’t shoulder the cost alone,” Brown said. “The renovations cost billions.”
He said it is estimated that $7.5 billion will be needed to replace CSOs in Ohio.
“We’re re-introducing the Clean Water Affordability Act,” Brown said. “I’ve been working on this whole idea for a number of years. It protects local customers from high water bills. It would lead to cleaner water. It would help create jobs and promote economic development.”
He said the bill helps communities with CSOs to develop an infrastructure plan that works for the community and, at the same time, protects the environment.
“It would keep costs down for distressed rate payers and municipal budgets,” Brown said. “It would invest $1.8 billion to be distributed over the next five years.”
Brown said studies show for every $1 billion invested in infrastructure projects, 20,000 jobs are created.
Brown’s county-by-county map designated projects in Portsmouth and New Boston, both communities who have already been working to replace their CSO systems.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.