Last week, the US EPA and Department of Justice announced a $3 billion settlement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) to help keep untreated raw sewage from flowing into Lake Erie.
A bit of background: the agency is considered in violation of the 1972 Clean Water Act because of the sewage overflows that sometimes happen during rainstorms. (You can read more about the mechanics and science of how and why this happens here.) Cleveland isn’t alone in this problem; a number of Great Lakes cities discharge billions of gallons in sewage every year.
You can read the announcement here and more history and information about the EPA’s case against NEORSD here. You can also read about “Project Clean Lake” from NEORSD here.
The EPA estimates NEORSD discharges almost five billion gallons of untreated, raw sewage
“approximately 3,000 to 4,000 times per year into Lake Erie and nearby rivers. The settlement will require the sewer district to spend approximately $3 billion to install pollution controls, including the construction of seven tunnel systems ranging from two to five miles in length that will reduce the discharges of untreated, raw sewage to approximately 537 million gallons per year.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports in this interesting and helpful Q&A this will unfortunately likely mean higher sewer bills for Cleveland and surrounding communities, tripling bills over 25 years in order for the District to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act. However, the project is expected to generate jobs.
As we’ve reported before, sewage overflows are a serious problem for the Lakes. A study in August recommended Great Lakes cities 1) separate miles of combined sewer pipes into sanitary and storm sewers and 2) install “green” infrastructure — such as rain gardens, vegetated roofs and pervious pavement — to capture and cleans this storm water and reduce the volume of storm water flowing off the landscape.
From The Nature Conservancy via the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
“Americans are collectively moving from the places that are best equipped to deal with climate change to those that are least equipped,” (a Nature conservancy blogger) writes.
The five cities at the bottom in water sustainability (Las Vegas, Phoenix and Mesa, Tucson, and Los Angeles) grew by an average of 37 percent from 1990-2000.
But among the five most water-sustainable cities, only Chicago grew. The other four cloudy and water-rich towns — Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit and New Orleans — all lost population.”
The article also has information about climate change impacting the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie.
We’ve previously written about Cleveland’s lawsuit against 21 big banks over the mess that was created by the foreclosure crisis.
This article in Cleveland Scene summarizes the case nicely:
“The case against the banks isn’t a class action about individual homeowner losses, or whether they were tricked into signing commitments they couldn’t keep. (Attorney Joshua) Cohen knows that’s a common misunderstanding. Instead, it’s about the big picture from the city’s point of view — an attempt to recover money Cleveland has been forced to spend cleaning up the mess Wall Street left behind.
The foreclosed homes often end up as abandoned, ugly board-ups that are a haven for crime. The city is left to mow the grass when neighbors complain about rodents. The police end up dealing with festering drug problems. All of that costs money. And ultimately, the city must demolish thousands of these derelict properties at a cost of $7,000 each or more. But Cleveland is not alone: A similar case filed by the City of Buffalo, New York, claims the maintenance, police attention, and eventual demolition of foreclosed homes totaled as much as $16,000 per building. Of course, Buffalo was left holding the tab.
‘Was it irresponsible lenders or borrowers?’ Cohen asks rhetorically. ‘You could argue that until the cows come home. But whatever conclusion you reach, Cleveland was an innocent bystander. It’s amazing to me that the financiers have not been called to answer for this in any meaningful way.'”
Where does the case, filed in 2008, stand now?
Headed for a long-shot run at the US Supreme Court.
In addition to Cleveland, similar suits have been filed by Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Memphis, the article states.
Congressional Quarterly has released its annual report on America’s most crime-ridden cities. This year St. Louis topped the list, upping last year’s leader: Camden, NJ.
Activists in St. Louis play dead in a demonstration on healthcare reform. Image via St. Louis Area Jobs with Justice.
Also, Detroit was No.3, Flint, No. 4. Cleveland ranked in at No. 7. Gary, Ind. ranked 9th.
The National Conference of Mayors called the report a “premeditated statistical mugging of America’s cities,” saying the rankings are “bogus.”
St. Louis mayor Francis Slay said on Twitter yesterday “Crime stats reflect crimes. Crime stats rankings reflect how we draw our boundaries.”
Writers at UrbanSTL, took a different stance however, saying “I’m dumbfounded that many in St. Louis would rather attack those pointing out the fallacy of crime rankings than the ranking itself.”
I’ll speak for Cleveland when I say: A list? What list?
So many lists, so little energy to defend oneself (especially when you’re constantly fighting off muggers).
Filed under Crime, Headline
This is a very big deal. Big.
The city of Cleveland was chosen as one of five cities to share $80 million in grant funding through the Livable Cities Initiative.
Funders were impressed, specifically, by the city’s efforts to establish cooperative workplaces to serve as suppliers to some of the region’s major employers–including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospital.
We’ve written before about the Evergreen laundry, where workers from the impoverished Hough neighborhood are earning a stake in the company while putting in hours doing laundry for local institutions. That organization was seeded by the Cleveland Foundation as part of an innovative employee-owned business structure that has come to be known as ‘the Cleveland Model.”
Works at the Evergreen cooperative laundry earn a share of the company for their hard work.
The Cleveland Foundation has been looking to expand cooperative ventures in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods–most of which also happen to be near an important employment node–University Circle.
Their latest venture is a massive, 10-acre indoor lettuce farm. Between that, the laundry and a solar power operation, they hope to someday employ hundreds or even thousands.
The grant award goes a long way to justify Cleveland’s nonprofit urban revitalization capacity, which is driven by the local philanthropic organizations and is considered one of the country’s most sophisticated.
Detroit; Baltimore; Newark, N.J.; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. were also selected for funding by the cooperative of 22 major philanthropic organizations.
Good news out of Cleveland! (God, it feels good to say that.)
Cycling is up 50% in the county, according to a study by the regional planning agency NOACA.
Comin at 'cha! Two-wheeled Clevelanders brave mostly bikelaneless streets in the name of sustainability.
Because Cleveland is awe-some! Or, if you ask the experts …
A news release from NOACA said reasons for the increase may include the downturn in the economy, higher gas prices, buses being outfitted with bike racks and the growing number of bike lanes.
There really aren’t too many bike lanes in the city, actually, I have to add, as a bike commuter. But now that there has been a groundswell in public support for the practice, I’m sure that will change ;).
Kudos to Clevelanders for taking matters into their own hands.
A joint application by the regional planning agencies in Cleveland, Youngstown and Akron has won a $4.25 million grant under the President’s Sustainable Communities program.
The money will be used to conduct land-use, housing, environmental, transportation and economic development planning on a region level. You may recall, we wrote about how badly this type of planning is needed in the Cleveland area on this blog before. In fact, I would venture to say, there isn’t a community in the country that needs land use planning more than Cleveland.
So, Akron, Youngstown, Cleveland, let’s have a talk. This is a pretty big opportunity to address the problems of sprawl and urban decay. Are we finally ready to talk honestly about this stuff and put aside parochial interests for the sake of the greater good? The federal government has invested $4.25 million with the confidence that this region has the wisdom to make some smart decisions, as hard as it may be politically.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.