Toledo leaders announce $100M in waterway projects

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Construction work over the past decade targets a better environment. However, 2012 is going to be the busiest year yet for the Toledo Waterways Initiative, as various pollution control projects will be under way around the city.

For the past 10 years, the construction work related to the Toledo Waterways Initiative involved projects to reduce the amount of pollution and sewage released into local rivers and streams. This year alone, more than $100 million will be spent on 11 different projects towards the city of Toledo meeting a federal mandate.

At Ottawa Park, construction crews are inserting a three million gallon underground storage basin. On Parkside, crews are building a gravity sewer and force main sewer to eliminate a sewer storm water overflow, which currently dumps into the Ottawa River.

All projects are to help increase capacity during heavy rain periods, take pressure off the wastewater treatment plant and ease surface street flooding.

Projects either starting or wrapping up this year aim to increase capacity and take pressure off the wastewater treatment plant. Projects this year include removal of massive amounts of debris from the downtown and Swan Creek tunnels, construction of an eight million gallon ground basin near the intersection of Oakdale Avenue and Miami Street in east Toledo, and building a new sand removal facility at Bay View.

"When we get a heavy rain with the combined sewer facility, that flow that would normally overflow and bypass into the Ottawa River, Swan Creek, and Maumee River, will be stored in those facilities until our Bay View Wastewater Treatment Facility regains capacity," explained George Robinson with the Toledo Waterways Initiative.

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell has high hopes for the initiative.

"Not only are we improving our system from the standpoint of our waterways, as we go along, we're also creating positive jobs inside our city at a time when it's needed," said Bell.

It is estimated that 200 jobs are connected to the effort to make sure water that is put back into the environment is cleaner than before it was taken from the lake.

"The end goal is to complete the program in 2020 on time and under budget," said Robinson.

The budget totals more than $500 million paid for through Toledo's water and sewer bills.

Voters approved a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency in 2002 that paved the way for a 15-year, $521 million program.

Copyright 2012 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.

For more information visit www.toledowaterwaysinitiative.com.