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Ohio EPA Provides Loans to Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to Reduce Combined Sewer Overflows
Ohio EPA has provided more than $150 million in low-interest loans to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) for two projects aimed at reducing combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The sewer district’s projects are among 25 projects statewide that received funding in July, totaling $475 million, a one-month record for Ohio EPA’s loan programs.
NEORSD will use a loan of $142,320,000 to construct a four-mile-long storage tunnel on the east side of Cleveland. Once complete, the tunnel will store sanitary sewage mixed with storm water until it can be sent to the local wastewater treatment plant for treatment. Temporarily storing the excess sewage will result in a dramatic reduction of CSOs discharging to Doan Brook during wet weather events.
By participating in Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program, the sewer district will direct a portion of the loan’s interest payments to purchase and protect 394 acres of wetlands in the Geneva Swamp (Ashtabula Co.) and 60 acres of wetland habitat bordering the Beck Fen Nature Preserve (Portage Co.).
NEORSD will use a second loan of $9,871,800 to repair and replace a portion of Kingsbury Run’s Culvert Branch A, which receives sanitary sewage and storm water overflow from upstream regulators. The sewer district wants to reestablish flow capacity by bypassing an unrepairable section of the sewer channel. The project will reduce public health risks associated with CSOs and improve water quality in the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie.
The loans through Ohio’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF), were issued with low interest rates and other discounts that will save the sewer district nearly $41 million compared to market-rate loans.
Created in 1989, the WPCLF provides below-market interest rate loans for communities to improve their wastewater treatment systems. WPCLF loans are used for many purposes such as improvements to publicly owned treatment works and home sewage treatment systems, water quality-based storm water projects, agricultural best management practices, and landfill closures.
The WPCLF provides technical assistance to public wastewater systems in a variety of areas from the planning, design and construction of improvements to enhancing 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 EPA’s revolving loan funds are partially supported by federal grants and designed to last indefinitely through repayment of loans and investments in bonds. The loan program is managed by Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance, with help 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 fund.
More information about the WPCLF 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.