Category Archives: MSD News

Recap of the February Inning “Open Forum on Environmental Issues”

This unusual Innings meeting featured three speakers, with break-out sessions for each. Marilyn Wall spoke on MSD issues; Bob Park spoke about coming global cataclysms, and Nathan Alley talking about Plastics, Pipelines and Transportation. People left motivated to take positive action to address the issues!

 

 

Say No to Another Sewer Rate Increase!

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Are you tired of high sewer rates? Despite the lack of progress on court ordered improvements and failure to restructure the billing system, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) is asking for a 4.25% increase to your sewer bill.  We already have one of the most regressive rates in the country, raising the minimum charge on residential housing will only make it worse.  

Take a stand against the MSD Rate Hike, Send a letter today!

Last year we were successful at freezing rate hikes and recommending structural changes that would make the billing system fair, because people like you sent emails, made phone calls and testified at County Commissioner meetings.  Join your fellow Sierra Club members and let the Commissioners know how you feel about the rates.  

Take action today, send a letter  to the Hamilton County Commissioners!

We need to see a rate structure that reflects equity amongst all customers before rates are further increased. Together we can create change and implement a billing structure that is fair and incentivize water conservation, instead of rewarding the biggest water users with the lowest prices. 

Thank You for taking action,

Matt

placeholder_image Matt Trokan

Conservation Director

Sierra Club Ohio Chapter

 

How to get Help with Sewer Backups

Super storm of August 28, 2016 Flooding and Sewage basement backups.  If you experienced a backup of sewage (probably mixed with stormwater) the first step is to call the Metropolitan Sewer District 352-4900 and report it.  You can still report backups. MSD is responsible for cleanup (if you did the cleanup yourself you can be reimbursed), pay damages and prevent future backups.

If you could not attend or your questions were not addressed you can call the Ombudsman office which was set up by the Court, at no charge to you, to insure that the MSD Sewage in basement backups are cleaned up, claims are paid and future damage is prevented.  The Ombudsman with the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati’s number is (513) 362-2801.

Read more about the Sewage in Basement backup prevention.

MSD 2017 rate increase, capital and operating budget hearings

Hamilton County has announced public hearings on the rates, operating budget and capital budget.

Here are dates and ways to comment:

The Hamilton County Commission has announced that it will conduct public hearings on the Metropolitan Sewer District  (MSD) of Greater Cincinnati’s 2017 – 2021 Capital Improvement Budget, Operating Budget for 2017 and consider a revised rate structure for MSD service charges and surcharges.

The hearings are scheduled for Wednesday December 7, 2016, at 11:30 am and Wednesday December 14, 2016, at 11:30 am, 138 East Court Street, Room 603, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.

Comments can be made at the hearing or in writing to the Clerk of the Board, Jacqueline.Panioto@hamilton-co.org

Commissioners’ emails are dennis.deters@hamilton-co.org, chris.monzel@hamilton-co.org, Todd.Portune@hamilton-co.org

The files which MSD submitted to the county for the budgets and rates are here.   The MSD rate study is here: MSDGC-2016-Rate-Study-Draft-Final-Report_30SEP2016.pdf

The county monitor team and MSD have been working on the rates and budgets for almost 3 months now.  In September and October 2016, the commissioners passed several resolutions directing MSD and their staff to modify the rate structure or provide the necessary study/data to determine changes like stormwater runoff charges. But most of that work isn’t done and the most recent information is that MSD won’t have the billing system modified even by the end of the first quarter for the simplest changes.

So, we don’t know the how much the budget and rate documents have changed. The first rate increase documents indicated a 5.25 % increase; the rate study says 4.25%.  The county might be looking at 4%.  Muddying the waters further, the August 28 storm expected to total more than $20 million in damages, due to basement backups and sewer collapses. This impacted the MSD operating budget for 2016, probably reducing the amount of debt service paid.  The rate implications of that aren’t clear at all.

So despite the amount of information we have, it isn’t very clear, where this is headed.

Update on Sewage Backups in Basements

Sewage backups in basements

Prior to the 2004 federal consent decree, the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati often considered backups of sewage into basements and onto property to be “acts of God” and usually did not pay claims, help with cleanups or prevent future backups.

As part of filing its own suit and intervening in the federal lawsuit filed by the DOJ, Sierra Club made the judge aware that sewage had backed up into thousands of homes and businesses. People were suffering repeated backups and damage to their property due to the inadequacies of the sewer system. MSD is now under court orders to fix these problems.

The judge required MSD to

  • clean up basements,
  • pay damages claims, (including loss of property value) and
  • prevent future backups.

MSD is required to pay for these sewage back-ups from system inadequacies, not the property owner or renter.

The Court also established an appeals process that those with backups can use if their claims are denied. Here are the steps to use:

Backups should be reported to MSD, 513-352-4900 and can also be reported online at msdgc.org/sbu.

(Note: MSD’s program used to be called Water in Basement. The SBU, Sewer Backup Program, is the same program. )

The federal court also appointed Legal Aid to be the “Ombudsman” for the program – to look out for the rights of those damaged, if they do not want to hire their own lawyer. Legal Aid can be reached at 362-2801. The Ombudsman can help you with questions about the program and the appeals process, if your claim is denied by MSD. The Ombudsman’s assistance is free of charge.

It is very important to understand the procedures MSD has established for making claims and making sure your basement is properly cleaned up. Sewage carries disease-causing pathogens and other threats to human and animal health.

Sierra Club has an ongoing interest in the effectiveness of this program.

If you are having trouble getting help from MSD, you can also call Sierra Club at 513-861-4001. You may have to leave a message, so please leave an address and phone number where you can be reached.

Sierra Club 513-861-4001 www.miamigroup.org

coming changes to the MSD rate structure

County Commissioners begin addressing MSD rate structure

During September and October 2016, the Hamilton County Commission passed the following resolutions and requested that MSD begin implementation as soon as possible.

  • Billing residential customers monthly
  • Basing the multifamily billing on meter size rather than the number of units
  • Billing based on actual meter size rather than pipe size
  • Increasing awareness of lateral line insurance
  • Establishing a customer billing appeals process
  • Reducing the current monthly charge based on 5 ccf of water to 3 ccf.

The monthly billing will be based on 1/3 of the current quarterly billing for residential customers. This is a reduction from $59.54/month to $39.12. About 30% of customers use less than 5 ccf that was previously part of a monthly bill. That is they were paying for water discharged to the sewer system that they were not using.

More work is in progress. Each of the Commissioners’ resolution included setting up a framework to encourage the use of Green/Sustainable Infrastructure and reducing the inflow and infiltration of stormwater. The County Monitor Team is charged with working with MSD to get the necessary data to determine stormwater charges, and green infrastructure incentives. Separating the volume charge out of the minimum charge will likely encourage more water conservation and possibly non-potable water reuse. This will affect revenue – and some level of treatment costs. The Commission is discussing phasing in such changes so that the billing rate can properly reflect the needed revenue. Work is also being done on developing the low-income / hardship billing assistance.

Sierra Club supports addressing the stormwater charge and green infrastructure as soon as possible. We also support eliminating the volume discount that big industries get for use of large volumes of water.

Don’t Flush Rate-Payers Down the Drain!!

Tell Commissioners to Stop the Waste!!

Miami Group members, we need your support in standing up for fair sewer rates in Hamilton County. Together we have been successful at freezing rate hikes and recommending structural changes that would make the billing system fair.  While the County Commissioners have resolved to act on our recommendations the Metropolitan Sewer District is seeking a 5.25% rate increase for 2017.  Join your fellow Sierra Club members in letting the Hamilton County Commissioners know that there is still plenty of work to be done on our outdated sewer rate structure.

Take action today, send a letter  to the Hamilton County Commissioners!

The County Commissioners have recently passed resolutions that were recommended by the Rate Affordability task force, but there are still many recommendations that must still be passed.  We need to see a rate structure that reflects equity amongst all customers before rates are further increased. Together we can create a fair structure for our sewer bills.  

Thank you for taking action and for all you do for Ohio’s environment!

Hamilton County Commissioner Candidate Forum

Candidate Forum

Election time is coming and there are new candidates for the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. Come hear from the candidates for Hamilton County Board of Commissioners on September 27th from 6 – 8 pm at Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church.  County Commissioners are responsible for sewer, transportation, and solid waste issues, as well as several other departments including the Board of Elections, Courts, Tax Levy, Corrections and Job and Family Services. Candidates running will be asked question on community concerns generated by the attendees.

When: September 27th, 6-8 pm

Where: 103 William Howard Taft Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45219

For more information, to RSVP, and to submit questions click here. 

This Candidate Forum is sponsored by Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati. If you have any questions regarding the forum, please contact Community Shares at info@cintishares.org.