Toledo homeowners can expect to pay roughly $13 a year more over each of the next six years to finance the final third of the city‘s $521 million sewage-expansion and modernization project known as the Toledo Waterways Initiative, according to a rate plan city council members will begin discussing on Monday.
For most senior citizens and disabled residents who qualify for the state’s homestead exemption, the impact will be a little more than $5 a year through 2020.
The massive project, which began in 2003 after 11 years of litigation, is required by court order to resolve federal Clean Water Act violations against the city for decades of filthy sewage spills into the Maumee River, Ottawa River, Swan Creek, and other Lake Erie tributaries in the metro area that flow out to western Lake Erie.
“We‘re winding it up. It’s something we have to do,” Robert Reinbolt, Mayor D. Michael Collins‘ chief of staff, said at a meeting with The Blade's editorial board today.
The city would likely be in default of the court order if the rate plan isn’t approved, exposing it to the risk of higher rates, Don Moline, the city‘s public utilities commissioner, said.
By completing the project, the city will benefit the lake, the region‘s drinking water, and its tourism industries by greatly reducing the amount of raw, human waste that fouls the tributaries. That was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s objective when it took the city to court over the violations.
The project will eliminate overflows in all but rare and major storm events. For decades, untreated waste has spilled into the tributaries after nearly every rain.