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U.S. Clean Water Act Settlement in Lima, Ohio, to Reduce Sewage Overflows

Release Date: 11/20/2014
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon, 312-353-6218, cannon.phillippa@epa.gov (media only)

CHICAGO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the State of Ohio today announced a Clean Water Act settlement with the City of Lima, Ohio, to resolve claims that untreated sewer discharges were released into the Ottawa River during wet weather. The proposed consent decree, lodged yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, requires Lima to make major structural improvements to control combined sewer overflows and to eliminate overflows from the sanitary sewer system.

“The consent decree prevents sewer overflows into the Ottawa River,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. “Lima will make critical upgrades to the City's wastewater treatment infrastructure on a schedule that ensures affordability.”

The proposed consent decree requires the City to more than double wastewater treatment capacity – from 30 million gallons a day to 70 million gallons a day. The City will reduce sewer overflows by fully or partially separating storm water and sewer lines, constructing a new 13-million gallon storage tank and installing a pump system. These actions are expected to significantly reduce Lima’s combined sewer overflows over the next ten years, while sanitary sewer overflows will be eliminated in stages throughout the life of the consent decree. These and other improvements will cost an estimated $147 million. The City will also pay a civil penalty of $49,000, to be split evenly between the United States and State of Ohio.

In addition, the City agreed to remove and replace dead or compromised trees along the banks of the Ottawa River. This estimated $218,000 revitalization project is expected to improve water quality and benefit the aquatic ecosystem in the Ottawa River.

Keeping raw sewage and contaminated storm water out of the waters of the United States is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives. Raw sewage and contaminated storm water contain pathogens that threaten public health and the environment. EPA is focused on reducing discharges from sewer overflows by obtaining commitments from cities to implement timely, affordable solutions.

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. It can be viewed at
www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html