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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.




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