Community Group Calls for Increased Regulator Oversight of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD)
Cincinnati, Ohio – Frustrated by fighting over the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) between the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Communities United For Action (CUFA) turned to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) for help with sewer issues.
CUFA Board Member Erica Johnson opened the November 9 meeting, “We’ve convened this public forum because our neighborhoods are being left behind in the plans to fix the sewers. We are more than a billion dollars into this project and not only are people struggling financially, they are struggling with damage to their homes and lives.” CUFA highlighted sewer issues in Bond Hill, Muddy Creek, Covedale, and the Ludlow Run Watershed area of Northside.Read more
CINCINNATI - After years of delayed sewer fixes caused by infighting between the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County over the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) ordered the City and County to move forward with plans they agreed to a decade ago.
Are you tired of high sewer rates and overflowing sewers?
Our sewer bills have increased 234% since 2000. The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) has been collecting our hard earned money since 2006 to spend it on a $3.2 billion dollar project called Project Groundwork. Project Groundwork is the response to a consent decree from the EPA (Environmental Projection Agency) after MSD’s Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) were found to be in violation of the Clean Water Act.
Hamilton County’s sewer system is almost 100 years old and not engineered to meet the needs of our increased population. When it rains too hard, CSOs overflow and mix raw sewage with groundwater which floods residents' basements and backyards. This project is designed to stop sewage overflows and clean up our rivers and streams. However, thousands of residents are still dealing with sewage backups and MSD doesn't have a plan for Phase II of the project to resolve overflows.
Communities United For Action has proposed the People's Sewer Justice Platform as a solution for systemic changes to make MSD more transparent and accountable and our sewers affordable for everyone.
In our campaign for #sewerjustice, CUFA has:
- Stopped new rate increases since 2015
- Won a customer assistance program for seniors
- Won a new reporting dashboard detailing Project Groundwork project information and finances
- Won notifications on every water and sewer bill about the Sewer Backup Response Program
Take Action for Sewer Justice
Are you affiliated with an organization? Endorse our People's Sewer Justice Platform.
The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) has introduced a Customer Assistance Program (CAP) to help seniors afford their sewer bills. The problem is that the program MSD is offering has qualification requirements that are too restrictive and the discount is too small.
Further, Communities United For Action views it as a conflict-of-interest for MSD to administer the program.
The Hamilton County Commissioners are holding a public hearing to get feedback about the program February 19th @ 6:00 PM. Come to the hearing and sign the petition below to support CUFA's written comments.
Here is the language that Communities United For Action will deliver to the Hamilton County Commissioners along with petition signatures:
The Customer Assistance Program for seniors offered by the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) is too restrictive, will lack adequate oversight and doesn't offer enough of a discount. Please make the following modifications to the program:
- Increase the discount rate from 20% to 40%
- Include renters in the program
- Make the income requirement 175% of the poverty level
- Have the program administered by a third party, not in-house at MSD
- Do not require seniors to qualify every year
Thank you for considering our comments. Please notify Communities United For Action and petition supporters of improvements you are making to the program.
Vickie Jackson, Bond Hill resident and CUFA Member said, "They [MSD] did not take ownership of [my] sewer backup. We continue to have sewer backups. We did not know about the sewer backup prevention program. They're playing off of our ignorance. It's not getting better the way things are going now. I think the only way we will get ourselves out of this is to keep working with CUFA."Read more
"Being newly retired from the University of Cincinnati, I felt that I needed to start tracking how I was spending my money. I noticed that my water usage was small, but my sewer usage was 2 and a half, almost three times what my water bill was," said Wanda Ball, College Hill resident and CUFA Member. "It just amazed me how I could have such a high bill and there's only one person living here. At that point, that was when I decided this was something I needed to protest. What I have learned is ugly. It began to make me question the system."Read more
CUFA Board Member Elder Donell Raglin said, "We had water in the basement not quite to your knees, but close. The sewage damaged a lot of personal items we had in the basement. It was terrible; everything was a disaster. MSD came in and said what they would do, [but] as of today, they haven't done anything. They made a lot of promises they didn't keep. CUFA, they've been like a life-saver and I would say, don't walk, run to CUFA." Elder Raglin experienced more sewer backups and has since moved.Read more
"Communities United For Action is a way to participating in communities that were effected by sewer backups," said Florence Miller, East Clifton resident and CUFA Member. "Three feet of sewer water in the basement and the garage is nothing you want to deal with. I want MSD to be responsible for maintaining the system and fixing the system, so these sewer backups don't happen."Read more
"In case you aren't paying attention, your sewage is much higher than the water that you are using," said CUFA Member Jeremiah Squire. "I'm on a fixed income. With the Duke bill, there's the PIPP program; for water there's no kind of program. You either pay it, or they're going to cut you off."Read more
In August of 2016, during heavy rains, sewage backed up in Deb Madaris' basement from overfilled sewers. "I ended up with 16 inches of water in my basement, raw sewage. Anything that was less that 16 inches off the floor was ruined, including my washer and dryer. I got involved with CUFA because I feel like I'm being jerked around by the sewer district."Read more