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After Five Years of Legal Battle Ohio’s Stormwater Management Program is Finally in Motion

After a five-year court battle, the Ohio Supreme Court finally put a stop to the efforts put forth by five Ohio communities and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, who aimed to stop the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District from setting up a stormwater management program. In September, the courts ruled that the sewer district […]

After Five Years of Legal Battle Ohio’s Stormwater Management Program is Finally in Motion

trabajando en una alcantarillaAfter a five-year court battle, the Ohio Supreme Court finally put a stop to the efforts put forth by five Ohio communities and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, who aimed to stop the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District from setting up a stormwater management program.

In September, the courts ruled that the sewer district had authority to manage stormwater and were able to charge members of the community fees in order to fund the program. While the communities — Beachwood, Brecksville, Independence, Lyndhurst, and Strongsville — and the merchants council requested that the court reconsider, the court denied the request this past Wednesday, closing the case once and for all.

“We are very pleased with this decision,” Julius Ciaccia, the sewer district’s chief executive officer, said to cleveland.com. “Now we can focus on what’s really important for the region and tackle the problems caused by stormwater.”

Stormwater can render a slew of negative effects regarding public health, as improperly managed stormwater can contaminate clean water supplies, cause flooding, and proliferate the growth of harmful bacteria, effectively spreading disease.

The new program will cover stormwater runoff management for more than 60 Ohio communities. In order to pay for the program, property owners will be assessed and assigned fees accordingly, but none of the fees will take effect until late 2016.

Typically, many present day stormwater solutions are implemented using trenchless sewer methods, a non-invasive yet relatively misunderstood method. In fact, 78% of respondents in an Angie’s List survey claimed they knew nothing about this “no dig” method.

Initially, the stormwater management program was challenged in 2011 by right suburban communities. After the ruling in September, five of the communities requested consideration. In 2013, the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals rules that the sewer district had overstepped its authority, and since then, the program has been on hold, with approximately $20 million in already collected stormwater management fees sitting in escrow.

According to a statement made by chief executive sewage officer Ciaccia, the next step will be releasing the $20 million in fees from escrow, and to use it to make the necessary moves to restart the program. She feels the money will enable the district to take on previously planned projects that had been put on hold in 2013.

The goal of the program is to provide a comprehensive approach to stormwater runoff issues, and to get the district’s communities to work together in order to come up with the best implementation decisions regarding stormwater runoff.

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