Akron sewer project

Akron green storm water system design
AKRON WATERWAYS RENEWED!

Akron officials are awaiting approval from a federal court on proposed money-saving modifications to the city’s massive sewer project. The US and Ohio EPAs approved the changes last year.

Akron, like many cities across the nation, is under a federal mandate to update its infrastructure to stop old sewers from releasing combined storm water and sewage into the Cuyahoga River by 2028. 

photo of Cuyahoga River
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Fifty years ago, the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. It wasn’t the first time this had happened. And it really didn’t become a big deal nationally until more than a month later when Time magazine ran an article on the fire.

Fifty years later, the river has rebounded. Watershed is a series from WKSU News looking at our waterways and what the future holds for them. In our opening story, we take a look at the current state of “the burning river.”

This is Akron: Residents Are Drowning in Sewer Bills

Mar 17, 2019
photo of Rosie
PHIL MASTURZO / AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

Akron resident Carla Deiss Dobbins is flummoxed: Why does it cost more to flush her toilets than to heat her Firestone Park home during the dead of winter?

 

Water and sewer would cost her family of four about $28 a month, about the price of taking the family out for Galley Boys at Swensons.

 

But now her bill is nearly three times that because of price hikes to pay for a massive sewer project to stop untreated waste water from flooding into rivers and streams. 

 

photo of Akron sewer project
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Akron officials say the project to upgrade the city’s sewer system has surpassed one of its goals.

Repairs to the city’s wastewater treatment plant were completed two months ahead of schedule and cost 11 million dollars less than expected. Some of the upgrades include refurbished tanks and new pipes.

The program manager of the Akron Waterways Renewed! project Patrick Gsellman said the improvements at the wastewater plant help the entire water and sewer system function more effectively.

photo of Tunnel Boring Machine Known As Rosie
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

Akron’s billion-dollar sewer project reached a major milestone in 2018 and is slated for completion this year.

Ohio State Fair
WIKIPEDIA

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, September 17: 

  • Ohio State Fair contract with operator of fatal ride;
  • Akron borrows more money for sewer project;
  • Boyfriend charged after remains of missing woman Akron found;
  • Ohio Supreme Court to decide conviction for couple who failed to receive medical care for daughter;
  • Construction project begins on State Route 8;

Ohio State Fair ends contract with operator of fatal ride

photo of Cuyahoga shale from Rosie in Akron
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

A major piece of Akron’s billion-dollar sewer project came to an end today, as Rosie the underground drilling machine completed its year-long journey for the project which will keep sewage out of the city’s waterways.

Photo of Akron
Tim Rudell / WKSU

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, June 19:

photo of Lordstown GM
WKSU

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, May 29:

Akron Considers Plan To Reduce Interest Costs

Oct 1, 2017
Akron City Council Meeting
Tim Rudell / WKSU

Akron City Council plans to vote Monday on a request by Mayor Dan Horrigan to seek refinancing of about $235-million in city debt. 

KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan christened Rosie today

“I christen thee Rosie, in honor of the brave residents like Rosie May Jacob who went to war on the homefront here in Akron during World War II.”

The passenger-jet-sized machine will soon be boring a mile-long tunnel under the city.

photo of Rosie Digs Akron beer label
THIRSTY DOG

A local brewing company has created a commemorative beer to christen the tunnel boring machine being used on Akron's billion dollar sewer project.

The Thirsty Dog beer is called “Rosie Digs Akron", named after the machine.

Co-owner John Najeway says his company was chosen due to its prominence in the city.

photo of Tunnel Boring Machine Known As Rosie
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

Akron’s billion-dollar sewer project includes cutting a 30-foot high, mile-long tunnel under downtown. A special boring machine is being put together for that. It’s called Rosie -- for Rosie the Riveter -- and Rosie is really big. 

Imagine a 747, its wings folded back, pushing along 160 feet below ground. Rosie is bigger-around, longer, and --  at 1,100 tons -- a good bit heavier.

photo of Akron sewer project
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

The City of Akron is hosting its annual Blue Heron homecoming tomorrow, which this year will also include tours of its $1.4 billion sewer project.

The third annual Blue Heron Homecoming starts at 10 a.m. at the Mustill Store, just north of downtown. The event has been moved there this year so visitors can learn more about the sewer project; tours will be available starting at the store.

photo of Akron sewer project
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Akron is helping pay to remove a dam in southern Ohio, but it isn’t costing the city anything.  In fact, by acting as a “sponsor” for the Cincinnati-area project that otherwise wouldn't get funding,  Akron is saving money. 

The Ohio EPA’s support of local water-resource improvements is rooted in revolving loan programs. That means outright grants for projects that can’t pay back loans, are not doable.

photo of Akron sewer project
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Construction is in full swing on the biggest piece of Akron’s $1.4 billion sewer project. A free tour allows people to see what’s happening beneath the city.

SHANE WYNN / AKRONSTOCK

Akron City Council on Monday approved a $966 million spending plan, made up of a $550 million operating budget and a $375 million capital budget.

Akron Beacon Journal reporter Doug Livingston, speaking with WKSU's Jeff St.Clair says, the budget is dominated by one massive construction project, and that will likely continue for many years.

Judge Michael Russo
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court

Update:The state is planning to appeal the ruling striking down H.B. 180.

City leaders in Cleveland and Akron are praising a judge’s permanent injunction against the state law banning local hiring standards for publicly financed projects.

photo of Youngstown
Tim Rudell / WKSU

Youngstown residents may not have to pay quite as much as first thought for the EPA-ordered rebuilding of the city’s waste-water control system.

Like most Ohio cities Youngstown had to overhaul its sewer system. It signed a consent decree with the U.S. EPA in 2002 for a 30-year, $310-milllion project. 

Lead-line map
CITY OF AKRON

Akron has published an interactive map showing where its remaining lead pipes are. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports that the city created the map with the help of records going back more than half a century.

The map shows blue dots – some clustered, most scattered – throughout the city. Together, they account for 5 percent of the lines that connect water mains to individual homes and businesses.

photo of Mayor Horrigan
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Akron announced today a change to the city's sewer plan that's expected to save about $30 million. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports.

A federal judge has allowed modifications to the sewer plan that eliminate the need for a pump station and a secondary sewer along Riverview Road. City officials say that’s greener and will minimize the impact on the Towpath Trail and Cuyahoga River.

Akron Economic Development Director James Hardy says green initiatives, and working on the project’s financing, should lead to more savings in the future.

Sherrod Brown
ML SCHULTZE / WKSU

A nearly $2 billion bill to help communities upgrade their sewer and water systems has passed the U.S. Senate. But its sponsor, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, acknowledges he’s not certain of its chances in the House. 

The bill focuses on upgrades to century-old systems that flush massive amounts of storm water and sewage into waterways during heavy storms.

Photo of Rep. Johnson
THE OHIO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Ohio legislators passed a bill this week that removes the requirement that local governments hire a certain percentage of local workers for public improvement projects.

The passing of House Bill 180 conflicts with laws in cities like Akron and Cleveland that require the hiring of local workers for publicly funded projects.

Apprenticeship inquiries
M.L. SCHULTZE / WKSU

  State lawmakers could vote this month on a bill that would forbid cities from requiring contractors to hire a certain percentage of residents to work on their public construction projects. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports on a bill that arose after Akron tried to ensure its residents were trained and hired to work on its massive sewer project.