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NEORSD Building Sewage Storage Tunnel, Sponsoring Four Conservation Projects with Financing from Ohio EPA
Conservation Projects in Ashtabula, Ottawa and Lucas Counties Funded
Northeast Ohio Region al Sewer District (NEORSD) is continuing to eliminate combined sewer overflows (CSOs) with construction of the Westerly Storage Tunnel. The district has received low-interest financing from Ohio EPA for the project.
The 9,640-foot long, 25-foot diameter tunnel will capture combined sewage and storm water from two CSOs. Construction of the tunnel should be completed by December 2024. The lower interest rate on the $141.75 million loan will save NEORSD an estimated $36.77 million compared to market-rate loans.
To help preserve high quality resources in Ohio, NEORSD has also elected to direct a portion of the interest on the loan to fund four projects through Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP). The WRRSP allows a sponsor to direct the interest paid on a loan to conservation projects in exchange for up to an additional 0.1 percent interest rate discount. The district’s sponsorship will provide $5.95 million toward four conservation projects:
- Morgan Swamp Metzner Tract, Ashtabula County – The Nature Conservancy will purchase the 200-acre tract, protecting about 74 acres of high quality wetlands, 4,600 feet of the Grand River and 2,385 feet of tributaries. The property will be incorporated into the adjacent Morgan Swamp Preserve, one of the most intact, forested wetland complexes remaining in Ohio.
- Sawdust Forest, Ashtabula County – The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will purchase the 66-acre Stoltz property that is located next to the museum’s existing 395-acre Sawdust Preserve. The property is in Trumbull Township in the Grand River watershed. The tract includes 51 acres of high quality wetlands, 5,040 feet of tributary stream and is a swamp forest habitat.
- Bay Point, Ottawa County – Funding will help the Western Reserve Land Conservancy preserve approximately 65 acres of Lake Erie coastal habitat, including 34 acres of unmodified, high quality shoreline wetlands and unique beach and sand dune habitat harboring rare plant species and hosting 80 different bird species, including migratory birds.
- Kitty Todd-Bettinger Restoration, Lucas County – The Nature Conservancy will purchase up to 405 acres of cultivated land and restore it to wet prairie and wooded wetlands. Much of the property is bordered by The Nature Conservancy’s existing Kitty Todd Preserve and Toledo Metro Park holdings. The property is in the sensitive Oak Openings region within the Ai Creek watershed, and proximate to the Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve.
Ohio EPA’s state revolving fund (SRF) loans are provided to communities to build and upgrade wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, upgrade home sewage treatment systems, better manage storm water, address combined sewer overflows and implement other water quality-related projects. Financial assistance helps support planning, design and construction activities and enhances the technical, managerial and financial capacity of these systems. WPCLF loans also make possible the restoration and protection of some of Ohio’s highest quality water bodies through the fund’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program.
Ohio’s SRF loan programs are partially supported by annual federal capitalization grants and have grown substantially over time because of the revolving nature of the loan issuance and payments back into the fund. The SRF programs are managed by Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance, with assistance from the Ohio Water Development Authority. Ohio EPA is responsible for program development and implementation, individual project coordination, and environmental and other technical reviews/approvals of projects seeking funds. The Ohio Water Development Authority provides financial management of the SRF funds.
More information about Ohio EPA’s loan funds is available at: epa.ohio.gov/defa/EnvironmentalandFinancialAssistance.aspx.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.