The Elyria, Ohio Clean Water Act Settlement Information Sheet
(Washington, DC – November 9, 2022) - The city of Elyria, Ohio, has entered into a consent decree with the United States and the State of Ohio to complete a series of capital projects designed to eliminate discharges of untreated sewage from its sewer system into the Black River, 10 miles upstream from Lake Erie.
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Overview of Company
The City of Elyria provides wastewater collection and treatment for approximately 55,000 residents. Elyria owns and operates a municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and a sewage collection system that is comprised of a separate sanitary sewer system and a combined sewer system. Elyria is permitted to discharge treated wastewater and combined sewage from its WWTP and combined sewer system under the terms and conditions of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by the State of Ohio.
The United States alleges that Elyria violated terms and conditions of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which set limits for how much of a certain pollutant an entity can discharge into a waterbody. The alleged violations include unauthorized discharges of pollutants into the Black River or its tributaries from sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), repeated discharges of untreated sewage into the Black River from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) during wet weather periods, and bypasses of wastewater treatment facilities at its WWTP into the Black River, in violation of its permit.
The proposed settlement includes specific requirements to address SSOs, CSOs and bypasses of wastewater treatment. The consent decree requires completion of the construction and full implementation of all projects and pollution control measures by no later than December 31, 2044. The total cost of implementing these measures is estimated to be approximately $248 million.
- SSOs – Elyria shall complete sewer system improvements designed to eliminate SSOs. Specifically, the storage and sewage conveyance project known as the East Side Relief Sewer will consist of large diameter sewer measuring nearly five miles in length. The city will also complete various pump station improvements, and construction and rehabilitation of sanitary and storm sewers to reduce inflow and infiltration.
- CSOs – Along with the construction of the East Side Relief Sewer the city will construct outfall specific storage projects sized up to 110,000 gallons to control CSOs to no more than 4 events with a total annual volume of less than six million gallons of discharge during the typical year.
- Bypasses – Construct and implement improvements at the WWTP to expand peak treatment capacity at the WWTP from 30 million gallons per day to 40 million gallons per day. Additionally, Elyria will construction a chemically enhanced primary treatment and high-rate disinfection (CEPT/HRD) facility to treat combined sewage wet weather flows above the expanded secondary treatment capacity.
Through the implementation of the proposed Decree, the following estimated annual pollutant reductions will result:
- 50,120 pounds of total suspended solids;
- 27,911 pounds of biochemical oxygen demand;
- 937 pounds of total nitrogen; and
- 134 pounds of total phosphorus.
Health and Environmental Effects
- Total Suspended Solids (TSS) – TSS indicates the measure of suspended solids in wastewater, effluent or water bodies. High levels of TSS in a water body can diminish the amount of light that penetrates the water column and reduce photosynthesis and the production of oxygen.
- Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) – BOD is an indirect measure of the biologically degradable material present in organic wastes. High BOD means there is an abundance of biologically degradable material that will consume oxygen from the water during the degradation process. It may take away oxygen that is needed for aquatic organisms to survive.
- Nutrients – Excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in waters can produce harmful algal blooms. These blooms contribute to the creation of hypoxia or “dead zones” in water bodies where dissolved oxygen levels are so low that most aquatic life cannot survive
Elyria will pay a civil penalty of $200,000 which will be split equally between the United States and the State of Ohio.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.
For more information, contact:
Water Enforcement Division
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW (Mail Code 2243A)
Washington, DC, 20460