Sponsor our Sewer Justice Tour & Public Meeting
Our sewers spew 11.5 billion gallons of untreated sewage into our waterways each year and sewage backups up into thousands of residents basements during rain events - all violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Many CUFA constituents fear the rain because their basements fill with raw sewage. Several of our members have been forced to relocate to protect their health. Our members have experienced respiratory and skin problems because of these sewer overflows. One of our members died two years ago after experiencing multiple sewer overflows in his home.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) sued the City & County in 2002, resulting in a Consent Decree to bring Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) into compliance with the Clean Water Act by fixing our sewers. Due to ongoing disputes between the City & the County about the ownership and oversight of MSD, compliance with our Consent Decree agreement has been delayed. CUFA is frustrated by the lack of solutions for sewer backups and overflows, so we are organizing a Sewer Justice Neighborhood Tour to bring the USEPA to the neighborhoods their decisions are impacting and hold a public meeting to invite City & County decision-makers.
While we appreciate that the USEPA has recently taken enforcement action, the plans to fix our sewers will not address the issues many of our neighborhoods are experiencing.
Residents in Bond Hill, Lincoln Heights, Green Township, Covedale, Roselawn, Golf Manor, Norwood and Northside are all having issues with repeated sewer backups or sewage overflows. While there are limited projects currently under way in Northside (along Kirby & Virginia Ave.), the USEPA-approved plan will not address the capacity issues that lead to sewer backups in the above-mentioned neighborhoods.
Residents in these areas also report having issues getting help from MSD's court-mandated Sewer Backup Response Program. USEPA officials told us in a February call they think that program is working well. It is not – the program only helps 10% of the people that file complaints. Residents say that MSD unfairly screens them out of the program, even though they are likely entitled to receive damage compensation.
CUFA participated in a direct action at the USEPA headquarters in April with People's Action on issues affiliated organizations like CUFA are experiencing with lack of enforcement of pollution control across the country. Because of that action, we have gained a commitment from the Director of the USEPA's Office of Environmental Justice to visit Cincinnati and several other cities across the nation. Our Sewer Justice Neighborhood Tour & Public Meeting will bring together the USEPA and neighborhood leaders being impacted by sewer backups and overflows to come up with solutions for the neighborhoods that are being left behind in the plans for our sewers to be fixed.
Our budget will fund a bus to keep our tour group together, food and materials we'll need for the tour and public meeting.