Eco-groups blast state over sewer overflows
Report says public being kept in dark, but EPA satisfied
with current system
By Bob Downing
Akron Beacon Journal
Posted May. 29, 2005
Ohio needs to do more to inform the public about sewage
overflows like those in Akron, three environmental groups
said Thursday in a new report.
The Ohio Public Interest Research Group, the Ohio Environmental
Council and the Central Ohio chapter of the Sierra Club
gave Ohio a grade of D-minus -- the lowest grade among
eight Great Lakes states -- for protecting the public
from sewer overflows.
The eco-groups want sewage eliminated from Ohio waterways
and for the public to be notified when such discharges
occur in the 88 Ohio communities with combined sewers
that overflow into streams after heavy rains, said spokeswoman
Erin Bowser of Ohio PIRG.
``Bacteria, viruses, worms and other unspeakable things
in sewage are being dumped into local waterways, and the
state is not telling you about it,'' she said.
The eco-groups called on Gov. Bob Taft and the Ohio Environmental
Protection Agency to ``immediately notify the public''
about sewer overflows when they occur.
At present, the communities with sewer overflows report
them later to the state.
The Ohio EPA is satisfied with the current procedures
and doesn't see a major need for such notification, said
spokeswoman Linda Oros.
The agency wants to put its money and efforts into eliminating
such sewer overflows, she said.
The eco-groups appear to be pushing Ohio toward a Michigan
policy that includes immediate online postings of sewer
overflows, Oros said.
Ohio has tried to monitor overflows in a more timely
fashion, but that effort was expensive and not always
accurate, she said.