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Akron residents could see water and sewer rate increases over federally mandated projects

There is likely to be one other utility rate increase on the horizon for Akron residents.

On March 1, Ohio Northern District Court Judge John Adams denied the town’s request to get rid of a federal consent decree requirement that Akron construct a brand new water therapy facility as a part of the Akron Waterways Renewed undertaking.

Then, on April 23, Adams denied Akron’s request to delay constructing the therapy facility whereas the town appeals the March 1 determination.

City attorneys argued that if Akron is compelled to construct the ability, it would lead to a direct 23% improve in water and sewer rates to pay for the $209 million therapy plant the town has resisted constructing.

This is the most recent improvement in a more than decade-long agreement to clean up local waterways by means of a collection of large — and expensive — projects.

In an emailed assertion, Akron Mayor Shammas Malik mentioned the town filed a movement within the sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals preventing Adam’s determination to not permit the town to delay building.

“I have previously committed not to raise sewer rates in 2024, and that commitment continues,” Malik mentioned. “As our administration works to determine future costs for maintaining our sewer system, we will provide updates to the community about the possibility of rate changes in future years.”

Adams wrote that Akron “seeks permission to fundamentally alter its 2014 Consent Decree and obtain approval to dump millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the [Cuyahoga River],” subsequently undermining the aim of the decree that Akron voluntarily agreed to in 2011.

‘Complete company overreach’

Adams famous that the consent decree has been amended 3 times, reducing the price of Akron’s compliance by over $200 million. One of the amendments allowed for constructing a smaller Northside Interceptor Tunnel, which the town mentioned saved ratepayers roughly $50 million.

Those amendments, Adams wrote, had been allowed as a result of they did not intestine the consent decree’s central settlement — that Akron cease discharging untreated wastewater into the Cuyahoga River and its tributaries.

Instead of constructing the brand new water therapy facility, then-Mayor Dan Horrigan proposed including bacterial therapy to a close-by 10 million-gallon water storage facility and lending monetary help to county projects that might deal with failing personal septic techniques in Springfield, Lakemore and Peninsula, which in the end pollute the identical watershed and rivers the U.S. EPA says Akron should defend.

While the Ohio EPA was on board with the concept, Adams sided with the U.S. EPA, opting to carry the town to its settlement to halt all sewer overflows.

Allowing the town to take these steps as an alternative of constructing the brand new facility would signify an alteration of a deal reached in 2011, Adams mentioned.

“In essence, 13 years after the Decree was entered by this Court, Akron wants to return to the bargaining table and obtain a Decree that requires less than the original,” Adams wrote.

In June of final yr, Horrigan issued a information launch criticizing the requirement to construct a brand new therapy plant.

“The U.S. EPA and the Department of Justice would like our residents and ratepayers to pay over $200 million to build a facility that would only be used at most three times per year,” Horrigan mentioned. “The advantage of this constructing is nearly non-existent.”

“This is full company overreach and fairly frankly, I do know this neighborhood is uninterested in it,” he added.

Contact reporter Derek Kreider at [email protected] or 330-541-9413

This article initially appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Akron water, sewer rate hikes possible to fund new treatment plant

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