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Northeast Ohio: Public hearings set for sewer rate increase

10:34 AM, Nov 4, 2010   |    comments
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The project is an enormous undertaking with a price tag to match.  As a result, the average homeowner's bill will go from $88 a quarter to $166.

"We know people aren't going to be happy about it but we feel very compelled to educate them about what it is," Sewer District Chief Julius Ciaccia said.

The current system mixes storm water with sewage in the same pipes. In times of heavy rain, it leaches into the environment.

Even if the sewage originates in suburbs, it makes its way through rivers, streams, and creeks to Lake Erie. The bacteria counts have forced beaches to close and have made swimmers and boaters sick.

It's a problem most major league cities are experiencing. Last August, a brown sludge tsunami-like wave overcame the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. So foul, passersby fled holding their noses.

Project Clean Lake will create seven large subway-like tunnels 200 feet below the surface to catch 94 percent of the the sewage overflow.

"It would be wonderful to be able to do that. I just thought there were going to be more federal funds that were going to underwrite this project," Lake Home Owner Cindy Barber said.

The feds did chip in $11 million in stimulus cash. The project price tag is $3 billion.

"We appreciate the $11 million we got from the stimulus package. It's certainly not enough, when you're talking about numbers as high as we are," Ciaccia said.

In a full page ad, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is inviting its 300,000 customers to a half dozen public meetings to put in their two cents.

Each year the project is delayed, increases the price tag by $150 million.

Call the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for public hearing schedules.


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