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New legislation proposed to stop sewage dumping in waterways

The legislation was proposed after it was found that the city of Maumee dumped some 150 million gallons of sanitary sewage into the river over two decades.

MAUMEE, Ohio — Cities across Ohio - Maumee, Port Clinton and Sandusky included - recently saw instances where hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage were dumped into waterways.

On Friday, Rep Jon Cross (R-Kenton) announced he intends to submit legislation to crack down on these incidents.

"I think it's important we have a zero-tolerance policy about what is taking place and these kinds of activities that certainly are harmful (and are) making our beaches and our waterways unsafe and unhealthy," Cross said.

While the Ohio EPA recently fined the city of Maumee nearly $30,000 for their dumping, Cross says that's not enough.

"They might be able to afford to write a $29,000 check, but at a minimum, my legislation would create fines of $250,000 and $1,000 per day, up to a $1 million dollar fine if they're dumping over 100 million gallons into the lake," the representative said.

Additionally, the proposed bill would change sewage dumping regulations. Right now, the Ohio EPA allows cities such as Maumee to dump up to 25 million gallons of sanitary sewage annually into local waters.

"If we're in the middle of this crisis to cleanup the lake, I don't think any dumping should be happening right now. So I believe we should be pulling state permitting to allow that to happen," Cross said.

Currently, the Ohio Legislature is on summer recess and will return in September. Cross said he plans on submitting the legislation to the agricultural committee to get the bill moving.