The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with the city of Middletown on a consent decree under the Clean Water Act to address discharges of untreated sewage into the Great Miami River and Hydraulic Canal.
The settlement was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Middletown City Council approved the agreement in late December.
City Manager Doug Adkins declined to comment on Monday’s announcement by the federal government.
According to the EPA, the city currently discharges millions of gallons of untreated sewage each year from its sewer system during and after rain events through its eight “combined sewer overflow” outfalls. Untreated sewage can contain disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites, as well as pollutants that can harm aquatic life.
Under the new agreement, the city will construct storage basins and other improvements to its sewer system and sewage treatment plant over the next 25 years that will substantially reduce the frequency and volume of its untreated sewer overflows. The city estimates this work will cost about $269 million. Additionally, the city will pay a penalty of $55,000 and spend $200,000 on a project in the canal to protect aquatic life from contaminated sediments.
“EPA is committed to keeping raw sewage out of our local waterways and communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp. “Today’s settlement will result in significant infrastructure improvements that will protect water quality and human health.”
“Today’s agreement will lead to water quality improvements that will benefit local communities along this important river corridor,” Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler said. “Ohio EPA is ready to help Middletown finance these projects through our low-interest loan program.”