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Community group requests public oversight of sewer district

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Communities United For Action members and Green Hills residents protest the local sewer district’s inability to solve sewer discharges in their community. Photo provided

By Mary Metzmeier
Working In Neighborhoods

GREEN HILLS — In response to the recent sewer overflow into Winton Woods Lake, Communities United for Action (CUFA) hosted a June 5 press conference to highlight systemic problems with management of the sewer system.

CUFA members acknowledged that MSD is “up a creek” in terms of maintaining our sewers and denying help to residents who experience sewer overflows. CUFA members brought a kayak paddle to the press conference and suggested the “paddle” that will get MSD out of this mess is better public oversight of the utility.

 

CUFA called for:

  • An external investigation of the sewage leaks at Winton Woods;
  • An external evaluation of MSD’s administration of the Sewer Backup Program; and
  • Systemic changes to MSD’s oversight structure and public accountability

 

Wanda Ball, CUFA member, said, “This is something that is affecting our health, and it’s not a priority (for MSD). We are not a priority. If MSD wants us to foot the bill, they need to make us the priority.”

Since 2002, MSD has been under a federal consent decree to fix sewage overflows and basement backups. Each year, the sewer system dumps 11.5 billion gallons of raw sewage mixed with storm water into our waterways and yards. MSD’s sewage overflows regularly contaminate the Mill Creek, the Little Miami River and the Ohio River, CUFA officials said.

 

Ball noted that sewer overflows impact almost every aspect of residents’ lives. “They’ve known these problems have been going on. It was in our homes, it was in our streets, it’s been in our businesses – where we work and live. Now it’s in our parks, where our children play. We need them to step up and do the right thing.”

 

The sewage spills at Winton Woods Lake demonstrate the need for regular infrastructure maintenance and increased oversight of MSD, she said, adding the spills originated from pipes that had not been maintained since 2015.

A recent sewage leak into this creek caused contamination in Winton Woods Lake. Photo provided

Deb Madaris, CUFA member and sewer backup victim, said, “It’s my understanding that MSD is getting billions of dollars to take care of this, and we’re doing what? Closing the park? Come on. It’s already been in our houses.”

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