Fact Sheet about Cincinnati, Combined Sewer Overflows
Hamilton County has over 200 sewer overflows. Some are Combined Sewer Overflows and some are Sanitary Sewer Overflows. Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) were designed to carry stormwater and sewage. Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) were designed to carry sanitary sewage only but often have stormwater entering the system anyway.
When it rains the volume of sewage and rainwater exceeds what the pipes and treatment plants can handle. This causes overflows into rivers and streams, sewage backups into basements of homes and businesses, overflowing manholes in streets and parks and other public and private property.
These overflows are a public health risk from sewage borne diseases. The condition of the system also shows the impact from decades of neglect and failure to replace, repair and upgrade the system.
The Metropolitan Sewer District (MSDGC), which is owned by Hamilton County and run by the City of Cincinnati, is under court orders (consent decree) to correct this problem. Despite some information on the web (projectgroundwork.org), it is difficult to tell what has been accomplished, what the benefits have been and when work will be completed.
Sewer rates began increasing for the consent decree projects and also for asset management projects around 2008. Asset management projects are normal repair and replacement projects needed to keep the system functioning. The total cost of Project Groundwork is reported to be $3.25 billion paid primarily through sewer rates.
The following information was found on the Metropolitan Sewer District’s website http://msdgc.org:
“Every year, about 11.5 billion gallons of raw sewage – mixed with storm water – overflows from our sewers into local streams and rivers and also backs up into basements. This is not an accident or oversight, but the result of a sewer system designed to meet the needs of an earlier generation, not our modern society.”
“Overflows occur as many as 105 times a year at some locations.”
Each year MSDGC prepares an operating budget, a capital budget and a rate increase recommendation for the Hamilton County Commission’s review and approval.
MSDGC’s notice of public hearing is here http://msdgc.org/about_msd/hearings_and_notices/public_hearing_cip_dec_2013/
Additional information is available on the right-hand side of the page, under downloads.
The Hamilton County Commission has also posted information at http://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/administrator/bsi/budget.asp
Look about half way down the page for
- MSD Budget Transmittal
- MSD Requested Operating Budget
- MSD Requested Capital Budget and Capital Improvement Program
- MSD Rate Study
The first document 2014 Recommended Sewer District Budget and Capital Plan is of particular note since it outlines the County’s issues with the MSDGC recommendations.
The public hearings on the rate increase will be held on December 4 and December 11, 2013 at 138 East Court Street, Room 603, Cincinnati, Ohio, at 11:30 am each of the two days. Comments can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional contact information can be found at http://www.hamilton-co.org/hc/bocc_default.asp