Lake Erie Water Quality Update 7/8/19


The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council Of Governments (TMACOG) Water Quality Council met Monday, July 8, 2019. Your Jerusalem Township Trustee representative on this council is Mark Sattler.

The most important item on the agenda was:

Joint Project to address Curtice and Williston unsewered areas

Approximately 800 homes in the Curtice / Williston area are not connected to sewers. Many of their septic systems have broken down and are leaking untreated sewage in to our waterways and ultimately our Lake Erie, further contributing to the phosphorous / nitrogen / nutrient load and exacerbating the algal bloom problem. Further, in 2015 – 2016, the Toledo Lucas County Health Department sampled and found high levels of e-coli bacteria which poses a health hazard. This unsewered area has been a priority since the 1980’s.

The Lucas County and Ottawa County Health Departments, and Allen Township (Ottawa County) submitted letters to Ohio EPA asking for the agency to confirm the area has unsanitary conditions based on their water sampling. OEPA completed their own investigation and declared the areas a public health nuisance due to failing septic systems. OEPA has indicated that Findings and Orders will likely be issued at some point. The Joint Project was kicked off in 2018 and is expected to be a 5-year project.

A joint project has been proposed to build a sewer system using the Oregon Wastewater Treatment Facility. Due to the relatively small number of households, the costs per home will be significant:

Per Household per month:

  • Sanitary Sewer Construction 20-year assessment $ 75.57
  • City of Oregon Wastewater Treatment Cost $ 40.85
  • Lucas County Operation & Maintenance Costs $ 40.00
  • Cost to connect each household 10-year assessment $ 36.70
  • Total: $193.12 per month

For any homes within 200 feet of a planned sewer line, connection would be mandatory and enforcable by the County and the EPA. It is worth noting that the county health departments would enforce the connection of a home to a sanitary sewer, while OEPA would enforce commercial/businesses to connect. It is cheaper to connect to a sanitary sewer while it is being installed than to hire a contractor and connect after the sewer project has been completed.

The costs for this proposed project are expected to create a significant economic hardship for many residents. Therefore, TMACOG Water Quality Council is asking the Governor and State Legislature to support a request for a grant covering at least half of the $15.2 million cost of constructing the Sanitary Sewer System. However, even if we are successful in obtaining the 50% grant, the homeowners will still be responsible for the wastewater treatment cost, the maintenance, the connection expense, and half the cost to construct the sewer for an estimated monthly cost of $155.33.

State Representatives Haraz Ghanbari (District 3 – Wood County) and Michael Sheehy (46th District – includes Jerusalem Twp and Oregon) were present to emphasize the importance of efforts to reduce the amount of untreated sewage reaching Lake Erie.

Background Information

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) was signed by the United States and Canada in 1972 and amended in 1983 and 1987. In 2012, it was updated to enhance water quality programs that ensure the “chemical, physical, and biological integrity” of the Great Lakes. The agreement calls for a 40% reduction in the phosphorus load by 2025. To date, we are NOT making sufficient progress towards this goal.

The focus of the TMACOG Water Quality Council is to:

Recommend positions on water quality issues and policies to the TMACOG Board Of Trustees in an effort to improve and protect water quality in our region and Lake Erie.
Plan best management practices with land and water resources to design and implement programs and projects that will reduce, control, or remove polutants; improve drainage; and