Millions of gallons of raw sewage mixed with storm water flows into local waterways

Millions of gallons of raw sewage mixed with storm water flows into local waterways

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Heavy rain has been enough this month, but the city also has a raw sewage problem.

Under a federal mandate, the city of Toledo was forced to make changes in how it handles raw sewage overflows. One of them is just past The Docks at International Park.

Workers there have an office like you've never seen. They're transforming what was a large hole in the ground into a seven million gallon storage tank.

Heavy rain will flow in there and stay put, until the city's wastewater treatment plant is ready to take it in and treat it.

It's part of the Toledo Waterways Initiative that is now 78% complete.

"So we are on schedule for that. We're on budget and very pleased with the progress of the program," said Julie Cousino, the TWI Program Administrator.

But rain continues to fall and in some older underground pipes in Toledo, it's mixed with raw sewage.

TWI numbers show that last May, 4.8 million gallons of raw sewage mixed with storm water got into the waterways. But so far this May, a staggering 135 million gallons flowed into the water.

The biggest sewage overflows this month happened at Ottawa River at Lagrange Street, into the Maumee River at Nevada Street, and into Swan Creek at Hamilton and Erie Street.

Cousino said the Waterways Initiative, even when completed, will only reduce 80% of the sewage overflows. But she said double the rain has fallen this May compared to last, which explains the difference. And she said the overflow amounts are still within permitted amounts.

"When the program, all of the construction is complete in 2020, we will have eliminated on an annual basis, 650 million gallons of untreated sewage from entering the waterway," Cousino said.

The project at International Park will be done by October of 2018.

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