Council expected to approve Akron sewer lawsuit settlement

October 27, 2009

Akron City Council Monday night opted to delay approval on the city’s request to settle a lawsuit against it from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Ohio over alleged clean water violations.

The suit, filed early this year, alleges Akron violated the Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit by allowing excess sewer and storm water runoff into the Ohio Canal, Little Cuyahoga River and the Cuyahoga River.

Public Utilities Committee Chair Kenneth L. Jones (W-5) said Council will take one week’s time on the legislation approving the terms of a consent decree between the parties in order to allow members to ask any questions and gain additional clarity on the terms of settlement, and on how it may impact residents’ utility bills.

“We want time to sit down with the city Service Director in case anybody on Council needs clarity on the terms and conditions of the consent decree,” Jones said. “We do not feel the city did anything wrong – our sewer system is just very old – but with something as big as this, we definitely always take time to make sure all questions are answered.”

Jones said the cost to make the recommended repairs to the city’s sewer system could amount to as much as $300 million, which may be passed on to residents’ water bills. The city will publish an executive summary of the suit and terms of the consent decree Friday, and Council expects to approve it next Monday.

The consent decree must be signed by mid-November.

Meanwhile, Council passed legislation Monday night authorizing a $3.1 million project to improve the Little Cuyahoga River’s water quality and reduce flooding in the Goodyear redevelopment area. The project is the first of several phases of the river improvement project. Pending Ohio EPA approval ,work on restoring 2,352 linear feet of the river from east of Seiberling Street to west of Martha Avenue is expected to begin in March.