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Akron is pushing for new sewer consent decree revision that could save $140 million

Akwon Water ways.jpg
Akron Waterways Renewed
Akron’s completed Ohio Canal Interceptor Tunnel. Placed in-service in June 2020

The city of Akron is pursuing another revision to its federally mandated sewer overhaul. It believes the changes could save an additional 140-million dollars on the project while still satisfying the conditions of a 2014 consent decree.

The U-S EPA has told the city, however, that it will not support the new request which would reduce the size of a smaller Northside Interceptor Tunnel, saving $40 million, and eliminate the Ohio Canal Tunnel Treament Facility, saving an additional $100 million.

Pat Gsellman is the project manager with Akron Waterways Renewed, which is in charge of the overall project. He says the consent decree was intended to reduce the amount of raw sewage from combined sewer overflows that end up in the Cuyahoga River during heavy rains.

Akron Waterways Renewed Spokesperson Pat Gsellman

“It’s a de minimis impact on water quality or improvement in water quality, and the big piece in that is we've actually been able to reduce the number of overflows in how we operate the tunnel from seven to three per typical year.”

An informal resolution period ended last week. The process now moves to a formal resolution period, but the decision could ultimately be made by a federal judge this summer.

Akron has completed 23 of 26 required projects. The deadline for finishing all work is 2027.

Kelly Krabill is a multiple media journalist at Ideastream Public Media. She is excited to engage viewers with visual storytelling. While living near Canton most of her life, she recently moved to Cleveland.