CINCINNATI, Ohio (Thursday, June 27, 2013) – Sierra Club, ECO and local residents hosted a Town Hall Meeting at the Northside Tavern to discuss the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC)’s public participation process, projects and rates. The Sierra Club and ECO presented a report card on public participation process for sewer improvements, rates, and budgets. Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls offered her perspective and community members voiced their concerns at an open mic session.
MSDGC discharges 11 to 14 billion gallons of untreated sewage mixed with stormwater each year. The CSO discharges are in violation of the Clean Water Ac, and MSDGC is mandated to address the problem through a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Cincinnati. In order to do so, it is estimated that it will cost the MSDGC over $3.2 billion.
The report card gives a detailed evaluation of the failing performance of MSDGC according to the accepted standards of the International Association for Public Participation; that the public needs to be informed and included in developing the best alternatives and solutions.
“Overall, MSDGC’s public participation ratings are poor,” said Marilyn Wall, Volunteer and Conservation Chair for the Miami Group Sierra Club. “They have improved in some areas, like holding workshops in the Lick Run watershed for the Lower Mill Creek Remedy. However, other processes like the budget, rate increases and project construction have been dismal.”
Area residents have been frustrated by the lack of consultation with the public on combined sewage overflow remedies and related programs.
“We’ve asked for more information. Sometimes it takes weeks and weeks to get non-answers,” said Eileen Frechette, member of ECO and Kings Run resident. “We were promised workshops on Kings Run before the Lower Mill Creek Plan was submitted, but they never materialized. We should not have untreated sewage flowing down the stream through our property for decades without a plan we agree will work to fix it. We’ve suffered from the odor and property erosion for too long.”