A federal judge has signed off on a deal between the EPA and Akron to limit the hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage mixed with rainwater that flow into Northeast Ohio creeks, rivers and lakes each year. But the OK comes after the city says it may no longer be bound by the deal. And even the judge’s order acknowledges he isn’t sure what happens next. For Ohio Public Radio, WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.
After two years and an independent expert’s report, District Judge John Adams’ order says he’s convinced the $1.4 billion plan would control the sewage overflows, especially into the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
His order says he understands now why the EPA gave Akron broad leeway from its standards. And he’s finally convinced the deal “is fair, adequate and reasonable, as well as consistent with the public interest.”
But his order also recognizes a very significant new roadblock to the work finally being carried out.
In December, Akron announced it is withdrawing, and wants the EPA to go along with a cheaper plan that involves less construction and more green infrastructure, such as settling ponds and rain gardens.
Adams’ order says Akron already has been operating under all the deadlines and parameters of the original plan and that the U.S. EPA opposes the change. But the city plans to pursue the new plan and wants Adams out of the picture—with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati taking over.
Akron’s sewer system serves about 300,000 customers.