February Newsline: EPA, MSD water talks continue; White House Jobs Summit pushes water division project and more

February 2010 Vol. 65 No. 2

EPA, MSD continue talks over water violations
The Business Courier of Cincinnati revealed in an article that in the latest settlement proposal between the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and U.S. EPA, the cost to revive a buried creek in South Fairmount isn’t clear, but the cost not to do it would be $244 million.

The EPA claims the city’s centuries-old sewer system violates the Clean Water Act. The problem is the sharing of pipes among storm and sanitary sewers, which overflow in heavy rain, polluting local creeks and streams.

The parties reached a consent decree in 2004, but MSD has since claimed it can’t afford the $3 billion in upgrades originally proposed. The latest plan still awaits final regulatory approval and the assent of a federal judge.

The article further states that in ongoing settlement talks, MSD has pushed for green alternatives, including wetlands restoration, to the massive mix of treatment plants and storage tunnels favored by regulators. The latest plan, conditionally approved by regulators in June 2009, calls for $1.2 billion in sewer upgrades by 2018 – a price that includes a $244 million underground storage tunnel to capture storm water runoff from the “Lick Run” watershed.

Lick Run was a Mill Creek tributary that followed the path of Queen City Avenue until it was channeled into a sewer pipe and buried. That pipe carries an estimated 800 million gallons of storm water to the Mill Creek each year and it’s one of the biggest overflow contributors in the system.

MSD Director Tony Parrott thinks it’s possible that re-establishing Lick Run in a 1.5 mile stretch west of Mill Creek would divert hundreds of millions of gallons of storm water away from sewers and into a more natural setting, where the water is absorbed by plants and dirt.

White House Jobs Summit inspires new push for water diversion project
At the White House Jobs Summit held in December 2009, discussion led to plans to re-launch a decades-old, large-scale water diversion project. The project has the potential to create thousands of new jobs, bring massive sums of fresh water to the southwestern U.S., potentially irrigate thousands of acres of arid land, increase planetary respiration to counter global warming, and yield a massive abundance of clean hydro-electric power.