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Published: Wednesday, 7/11/2001

Toledo says sewage not to blame for park bacteria

Studies conducted over the last 25 years show sewage overflows from the city of Toledo's wastewater plant are not responsible for bacteria contamination at Maumee Bay State Park along the Oregon shoreline, Toledo officials said.

“The insinuation is that the Toledo sewer system is responsible for problems at the state park, but study after study after study has indicated that is not the case,” said Robert Stevenson, commissioner of the city's water treatment division.

Mr. Stevenson's comments were prompted by news that Oregon officials want part of any financial settlement Toledo might make with the U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection agencies.

Oregon has filed a petition asking the court to make it part of the settlement, The Blade reported yesterday.

Mr. Stevenson said studies, including an investigation by the Maumee Bay Task Force, conclude that contaminants most likely originate from the area around the shoreline.

The task force is a group of government, health department, and environmental officials formed to study E. Coli problems that have often led to beach closings at the park.

Mr. Stevenson said studies have concluded that FirstEnergy's Bayshore power plant is not contributing to the bacteria problem.

Mr. Stevenson said a 1997 memo relied upon for the Oregon argument is not scientifically reliable.

The memo suggests bacteria is transported from Toledo to the park, although “these sources by themselves do not appear to cause exceedances of the water quality standards.”

It was written by Limno-Tech, Inc., a company hired by Toledo to oversee the evaluation of sewer overflow water quality.

“This memo is receiving a level of attention and importance that is frankly wholly unwarranted,” said John Marr, the company's vice president, in a press release.

Attempts by The Blade to reach Kerry Bruce, a representative of Toledo's utilities division, were unsuccessful Monday.

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