Toledo Waterway Initiative to be completed next year

Melissa Burden

        Toledo has been working to eliminate Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) as part of the Toledo Waterways Initiative (TWI). The TWI is a multi-million dollar project to upgrade the sewer system and prevent raw sewage runoff from getting into Lake Erie.
        In 2014, Toledo City Council approved a 52 percent sewer rate increase over a six year period to help fund the program. The Initiative is expected to reduce sewage overflows through wastewater storage, sewer separation and improved wastewater treatment. It will consist of over 45 separate projects encompassing 48 square miles over the course of 18 years, at a total cost of $521 million.
        At its conclusion, the TWI will eliminate 80 percent of all overflows to help restore and enhance the Maumee, Swan Creek, Ottawa and Lake Erie waterways.
        The TWI was part of a consent agreement in 2002 between Toledo and the U.S. EPA to be carried out over 15 years. At the end of 2012, about $238 million of the improvements had been completed, according to a report by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG).  It includes the development and implementation of a Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) for CSOs. The LTCP was submitted to Ohio EPA in 2005, and was approved in June 2009. It will eliminate nine overflow locations, reduce the number of annual overflow events and overflow volumes by 92%.
        There were 25 major projects in Toledo’s LTCP, including combined sewage storage basins and pipelines, combined sewage tunnel improvements, flow reduction, and sewer separation. LTCP facilities are located at Joe E. Brown Park, the Marina District, the Oakdale/Miami streets area, Toledo’s south end, International Park, and Jamie Farr Park, and other sites.
        One of the major projects already completed was an upgrade of Toledo’s Bay View Wastewater Treatment Plant. It will increase wet weather capacity and storage to prevent overflows during storms, according to Julie Cousino, the TWI program administrator at the Toledo Department of Public Utilities.
        “That was completed in 2006 and since then, we have not had one untreated bypass of sewage,” Cousino said. “Since 2006, sanitary discharges were completely eliminated. I have been supervising the program since 2014. When all is said and done we will have eliminated 650 gallons of untreated sewage from going into the waterways. That is an 80 percent reduction.”
Cousino said the TWI is 97 percent complete and that they have met the consent agreement with the EPA. In all, $527 million will have been spent for the TWI program.     “We currently have all projects designed and contracted,” she said. “Twenty projects have reached completion and five are under construction.”
        Completed projects include construction in Joe E. Brown Park. It consists of an underground 36.3 million gallon CSO storage basin and above ground pumping station that connects structures and pipelines in the Manhattan/Lagrange/Windermere areas. The project was completed December 14, 2017.
        Projects in the Marina District/Dearborn and Oakdale/Miami sites are also completed. International Park was completed and became operational on November 30, 2018.  The project in Jamie Farr Park was also completed in May, 2012. 
        TWI and project partner E. S. Wagner Company were awarded the 2019 “Project of the Year” by the Toledo Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for the International Park Storage Basin project.
        Current projects include the downtown storage basin.
        “This project entails construction along Superior Street to a downtown tunnel,” Cousino said. “Drop shafts at Adams and Superior streets and at Orange and Superior streets will be completed by the end of this year.”
        Swan Creek North is the site of a sewer separation project consisting of a new storm sewer. The existing combined sewer is now just a sanitary sewer.
        “We are finishing that up now,” she said. “It will be completed by the end of August.”
        Paine and Fasset streets are two locations getting regulator modifications to regulate stormwater flow. The project will be completed by the end of September.
        “They have to have a larger capacity during bigger rain events,” Cousino explained. “All in all, the TWI is reducing the frequency of overflows at outfall locations along the Maumee and Ottawa rivers and Swan Creek.”     
Toledo had 34 overflows prior to the consent decree with the Ohio EPA.
        “We had to eliminate eight of the CSOs as part of the consent decree,” Cousino explained. “We have eliminated seven so far. The remaining outfall will now be significantly reduced. We will have gone from 34 events per year to three per year because of the reduction in CSOs.”
        So, are we saving Lake Erie?
        “Yes,” said Cousino.
        “TWI is reducing the amount of water pollution that goes into area waterways,” she said. “That in itself is helping to save the lake. In the last five years, the construction of TWI projects has reduced pollution. That alone will have a major impact on the lake.”              
          Once the TWI projects are completed next year, Toledo will then show the Ohio EPA that it is in compliance. Evaluation of all of the facilities will be ongoing to make sure everything is working properly.
For more information on TWI, please visit toledowaterways


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