Category Archives: *** Leadership Blogs ***

Blogs by ExCom members, committee chairs and other club leaders.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County rush to deal on 45-year County take-over of Sewer District

Infighting between Cincinnati and Hamilton County has gotten in the way of implementing sewer consent decree projects that would clean some of the worst polluted water in the United States. By the Sewer Districts own reckoning, over 8 billion gallons of untreated sewage mixed with rain water, go into the Ohio River, Mill Creek and Muddy Creek. The Sewer District continually violates the Clean Water Act, exceeds standards by millions and continues to maintain illegal Sanitary Sewer Overflows.

Sierra Club remains concerned that the creation of a new five-member board of City of Cincinnati (2) and Hamilton County (3) appointed members to oversee operations, recreates the same potential for conflict. “Supermajorities” (4of 5) are required for major decisions; supermajority requirements tend to prevent, rather than encourage projects. The commitment letter seeks to let the City out of the consent decree, yet maintains a level of control that could interfere with consent decree work. These delays will add to the City’s prediction that a number of consent decree projects will already be late. The importance of the consent decree work needs to have primacy in the new agreement, but currently doesn’t. At the same time, the commitment letter also leaves the dispute about asset ownership up in the air.

We sought to have the deadline extended to allow for more consideration of this 45-year deal to fix it and allow other options to be explored. While the deadline was extended from the original 1 week, it did not allow sufficient time for the public to be more fully informed and consider other options.

The mediation between the City and County, which led to the commitment letter, was under a gag order by the judge assigned to the consent decree. The next set of projects to be completed by the Sewer District, under the consent decree, were due to US EPA on June 30. The County requested, and may still want, a one year delay in submitting this set of commitments for work that begins in 2019. US EPA, at this point, has granted a 4-month extension until October 31, 2017. Bizarrely, the City and County will not release even a draft of the Phase 2 plan for public review (beyond the list created in 2010 which has most likely changed in at least some respects.)

Sierra Club is also concerned about the status of verbal commitments made by the current management to businesses and residents about sewer projects. Will they be honored by the future management?

Thanks to diligent and fast work by Sierra Club attorneys and many members of the public, some changes were made to the commitment letter, over the weekend before the Monday morning vote. Sierra Club offered draft language, some of which was accepted. We appreciate members of Council and the Commission’s willingness to meet and discuss issues of concern about this 45 year agreement.

Call city council and county commission about the proposed MSD agreement !

Call city council and county commission about the proposed MSD agreement !

Many concerns still exist about the new city /county proposal for running the Sewer District. This agreement will last for 45 years so it is important to take the time to get it right!

  1. The requirements for board decision-making (supermajority) will stall the implementation of the consent decree and lead to more sewer backups into homes and businesses.
  2. There is no need to rush the deal and cut off public participation — there are options that also accommodate the need to reassure the bond market.
  3. Any other issues from the Sierra Club letter or your personal experience.

Please call (or email) the following and ask them to allow time to review and amend the agreement.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus 946-4406 denise.driehaus@hamilton-co.org
Commissioner Todd Portune 946-4401 Todd.Portune@hamilton-co.org
Council member Yvette Simpson 352-5260 yvette.simpson@cincinnati-oh.gov
Council member PG Sittenfeld 352-5270 pg.Sittenfeld@cincinnati-oh.gov
Council member Chris Seelbach 352-5210 Chris.Seelbach@cincinnati-oh.gov
Council member Charles Winburn 352-5354 charlie.winburn@cincinnati-oh.gov
Council member Wendell Young 352-3466 wendell.young@cincinnati-oh.gov
Council member Chris Smitherman 352-3464 christopher.smitherman@cincinnati-oh.gov
Council member Kevin Flynn 352-4550 Kevin.flyn@cincinnati-oh.gov

Check out Sierra Club’s  letter about the MSD commitment letter. 2017-08-07 Sierra Club and M. Wall Review of Proposed MSD Agreement

See the City and County Commitment Letter –>1013-Notice-of-Filing-Letter.pdf for their rough outline of the 45 year deal.  See what Sierra Club thinks of the deal–>   Deep Flaws in Sewer Deal Require Your Help at Monday Evening Meeting

Michael Miller wins seat Hamilton County Soil and Water District Supervisor Board

Michael C. Miller, Professor Emeritus from Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati, has been elected to the Hamilton County Soil and Water District Supervisor Board !
Thanks to all the Sierra Club members and friends who voted to elect Dr Miller.

from Mike Miller “I have never won an election of any kind. Because of your help and that of your membership we received the most votes ever for this volunteer office. I owe you and your members a great debt of thanks. Sincerely, Michael”

vote for Michael Miller for Hamilton County Soil and Water District Supervisor

Sierra Club is supporting Mike Miller for the Soil and Water Board.

Michael C. Miller, Professor Emeritus from Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati, has studied waters of S.W. Ohio and the Ohio River for more than 40 years and has been a board member of many nonprofits working to improve water quality and minimize impacts of urban runoff.  I would like to put this expertise to work for the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.   I have worked on the impacts of urbanization from hydro-modification,  pulsed flow from rainfall runoff, WWTP effluents, and nutrients on many streams and our regional rivers.  I have done this by research projects with graduate students, other faculty from UC, personnel form  OKI Regional Planning, and Mill Creek Watershed Council and by helping coordinate the monthly examination of water quality by volunteers for 10 years,  now reaching 300 sites with Rivers Unlimited, Friends of the Great Miami, Mill Creek Watershed Council, and Greenacres Foundation.   I have experienced the history of water management and land use practices in Hamilton County since 1970 that can help interpret our future needs on the HCSWD Board.    I want to work with the HCSWD Board to develop Hamilton County with good water quality.

Water quality and its analysis has been a major driver with my 40 years in the Biology Department and Environmental Studies Program at UC and 10 years of retirement with many non profits.  I am member of Green Umbrella Watershed Group, Greater Cincinnati Water Works Advisory Board, Rivers Unlimited, Saturday Stream Snapshot of Greenacres Foundation, Oxbow Inc., Sierra Club, Buckeye Fly Fishermen, Cincy Paddlers, American Rivers, Ohio River Basin Consortium for Research and Education and I follow Ohio River Fish Habitat Partnership, Ohio River Valley Mussel Group, Water Management Association of Ohio and have served on committees for Great Parks, Municipal Sewer Department Consent Decree Planning, ORSANCO, Mill Creek.  But I have done research to evaluate industrial and landuse impacts on water from Uranium from Fernald in GMR, thermal effluents on Ohio and Great Miami River,  WWTP effluents impacts on the Mill Creek, Little Miami River and Oho River, oil spill impacts on streams, ponds, and lakes in Arctic Alaska, impacts of road dust and particulates on vegetation and runoff impacts on stream morphology.  I am prepared to evaluate and recommend management of our fresh and ground waters from an ecological and hydro-chemical basis.

Thank you for sending for an absentee ballot and returning the ballot by Aug 9 to HCSWCD office or go to the HCSWCD office at 1325 Kemper Road Ste 115 during business hours on Aug. 14 and vote in person.

Michael C. Miller, Professor Emeritus
University of Cincinnati, Aquatic Biology
Vice President of Rivers Unlimited/FOGM

Past Plastic meet up Oct 17, 2017 6:30 PM

 

Hi all, We’re meeting Oct 17 at 6:30 at 2330 Victory Parkway, 4th floor across from elevators, Cincinnati, Oh 45206 to:

Get to know each other

Present the plan for the Oct 25 event releasing our disposable plastic bag proposal –

Come with ideas and reusable bags you no longer need; old t-shirts would be great too (to make into resuable bags).

Join us and bring a friend. Email nathanalley@limestoneadvocates.org if you have questions.

Sierra Club past plastic team

We hope to see you there!

 

 

Dayton Dragons RBI “Recycling Bin Initiative” Program in Dayton

A program sponsored by the Dayton Dragons organization in Dayton Ohio works to reward people who recycle their waste and report it to earn tickets to a minor league baseball game!

When a person tracks their recycle activity for two weeks and they send a record of their recycle activity in an email to the Dayton Dragons organization; four lawn tickets to a Dragons game are made available for the effort! Dayton is improving their awareness to recycling programs and involving the Dayton community to support glass, paper, aluminum and cardboard recycling.

The Dragons “RBI – Recycling Bin Initiative” hyperlink to the website is included below:

http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?sid=t459&ymd=20110331&content_id=17232822&vkey=tickets

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group Executive Committee – Dayton Connections

NOPE Update by Nathan Alley

Beginning announcement at the June 5, 2017 Innings

NOPE Update by Nathan Alley

Nathan Alley is Transportation Policy Coordinator for the Ohio Sierra Club.

As an attorney, he has had extensive experience with federal and state environmental laws. and has worked on issues relating to coastal preservation, oil and gas development, clean water and sustainable agriculture. 

About NOPE!:  NOPE! (Neighbors Opposing Pipeline Extension) is a coalition of concerned citizens from over 14 Hamilton County communities affected by Duke’s proposed pipeline.  The mission of the organization is to ensure that any necessary natural gas infrastructure is installed in a way that is safe and responsible, away from densely populated areas.  For more information, visit www.NOPEcincy.org

Nathan will give us an update on NOPE activities, especially since there is an upcoming hearing with the Ohio Power Siting Board on

June 15, 2017. 

The local public hearing is scheduled:

June 15, 2017 from 3 p.m. to  8 p.m.

University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash

Muntz Hall, Room 119

9555 Plainfield Road, Blue Ash, Ohio 45236 

Sierra Club Ohio signs on to S.B. 36 letter

The Sierra Club Ohio Chapter along with partner organizations, Ohio Environmental Council, Arc of Appalachia Preserve System, Flora-Quest, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, North Central Ohio Land Conservancy and Rail to Trails Conservancy have signed a letter to Senator John Ecklund in support of Ohio S.B. 36. Sen. Ecklund is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means in Columbus Ohio.

S.B. 36 allows farmers who use some of their land for conservation practices or who enroll some of their land in a conservation program to enjoy the lowest possible CAUV (Current Agricultural Use Value) tax rates for their land. This is especially important now with the tax increases many farmers are experiencing.  Moreover, this bill is strengthening voluntary measures that combat harmful algae blooms on Ohio beaches and algae blooms threatening drinking water. S.B. 36 gives Ohio farmers incentives to create riparian buffers, filter strips, and field borders. This bill helps farmers manage soil erosion and water quality issues.

The letter referred to herein is dated March 7, 2017. The bill is sponsored by Ohio Senator Cliff Hite (R-01).

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group – Executive Committee

fighting Scott Pruitt to head EPA

Four republicans who might vote against Pruitt include
Cory Gardner, Colorado 202-224-5941
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, 202-224-5972
Lamar Alexander, Tennessee, 202-224-4944
Susan Collins, Maine, 202-224-2523
Please call them and especially encourage anyone you know who lives in these states to call them. Thanks!!

According to the Washington Post, 2/4/17, some groups are targeting the Democrats from the reddest states in order to interfere with opposition to Scott Pruitt, as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mr. Pruitt has a record of suing the EPA and working closely with the big oil companies. American Rising Squared is a trump allied organization that is planning TV ads to pressure the following democratic senators:

Joe Donnelly (Indiana) 202-224-4814
Claire McCaskill (Missouri) 202-224-6154
John Tester (Montana) 202-224-2644
Heidi Heitkamp (ND) 202-224-2043
Joe Manchin III (WV) 202-224-3954

To combat this pressure it would be advisable for concerned citizens to call these senators and ask them to vote against Scott Pruitt for Administrator of the EPA. In addition, please call senators in your own state. If you know anyone residing in the above states, please contact them concerning this issue. Thanks!