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MSD Applauds New Water Infrastructure Improvement Act

MSD at National Forefront of Low-Cost, Green/Sustainable Solutions to Reduce Sewer Overflows

Green and lean has long been the mantra of MSD when it comes to reducing sewer overflows.

So MSD was pleased to learn that the federal Water Infrastructure Improvement Act – a new federal law signed on January 14, 2019 – grants all municipalities the ability to use green infrastructure1 to address sewer overflows within the framework of a federal consent decree.

MSD successfully negotiated green solutions into its federal consent decree back in 2013 and has been at the national forefront for finding lower-cost, green/sustainable solutions ever since.

“MSD has always been focused on finding savings for rate payers, looking for lower cost ways to do more with less such as green infrastructure,” said MSD Interim Director Diana Christy. “We’re excited that other communities now have an opportunity like we do to develop lower-cost approaches in their consent decrees.”

Headwaters(click for full image)

Former MSD Director Tony Parrott (left) with Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune (middle) and Nancy Stoner, former U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator of Water in Cincinnati in 2012.

In 2012, Nancy Stoner, a former top U.S. EPA water official, visited Cincinnati to learn about MSD’s green infrastructure initiatives. MSD’s approach helped frame U.S. EPA’s policy on integrated planning and this new law.

In 2013, MSD replaced an underground combined sewer overflow (CSO) storage tunnel solution with a green/sustainable solution, saving MSD ratepayers nearly $200 million. One of the highlights of this solution – the Lick Run Project - was dubbed “one of the most innovative, large-scale, green infrastructure projects in the country” by Stoner's succesor, Joel Beauvais. The Lick Run Project is currently under construction in South Fairmount.

In 2015, MSD began deploying a “smart sewer” system that reduces sewer overflows at a cost less than gray or green. This approach allows MSD to store excess flows inside existing infrastructure such as interceptor sewers, storage tanks and high-rate treatment facilities.

MSD is now actively looking for the newest, best approaches to reduce overflows and save money in future phases of its consent decree.

MSD’s proposed plan for the second phase of its consent decree (Phase 2A) includes a significant number of green/sustainable projects. In comparison with Hamilton County’s proposed Phase 2A plan, the two proposals have 90% of the same projects, but MSD’s plan includes more green infrastructure, including projects in the Ludlow Run and Rapid Run watersheds and Mt. Washington.

“Nothing in the new water infrastructure law changes what MSD has to do or provides any more flexibility than MSD already has,” said Christy. "We've been at the leading edge of green."



1Green infrastructure – which is the use of natural processes to keep stormwater out of combined sewers - has been touted as less expensive than traditional gray infrastructure (e.g., larger sewers, treatment facilities, and storage tanks).

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