Key actions under this strategy include:
- Optimize wastewater infrastructure
- Encourage investments in green infrastructure and low impact development
- Identify and correct failing home sewage treatment systems
- Investigate water quality trading as a potential future tool for managing phosphorus
Cities, towns and villages contribute phosphorus from wastewater treatment plants discharges and stormwater runoff. Over the past 40 years, significant effort has been made to reduce phosphorus loadings from wastewater treatment facilities, however further reductions from wastewater treatments plants are necessary. Most wastewater treatment facilities in the basin are currently permitted to discharge 1.0 mg/L of total phosphorus. However, many are actually discharging at lower rates and others present opportunities to further reduce discharges even in the absence of significant investments in new treatment technologies or infrastructure. Actions to characterize and reduce phosphorus loads from other municipal sources will also be required.
Combined sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff that would otherwise be discharged to the St. Marys and Maumee Rivers will be collected and temporarily stored in an approximately 5-mile long tunnel. The combined sewage and stormwater will be treated after the wet weather event has ended and the wastewater treatment plant has sufficient capacity.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, along with other local partners, conduct monitoring of nutrient discharge levels from priority combined sewer overflows (CSOs) to evaluate seasonal and annual loads.
Under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), federal agencies and their partners fund urban watershed management projects that will treat, slow, or capture untreated stormwater runoff, helping to improve water quality conditions.
Emphasis is on implementation of green infrastructure practices to reduce stormwater runoff from urban areas. These projects also reduce flooding, increase green space in urban areas, and return vacant properties to productive use.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) will investigate opportunities to utilize stormwater management to address hydrologic factors that influence nutrient loading into Lake Erie.
The state of Ohio has invested in point source nutrient reduction efforts by offering financial assistance to communities with discharge permits for wastewater treatment plant upgrades and combined sewer separation projects. Through its Water Pollution Control Loan Fund, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has provided Lake Erie communities with over $2.6 billion in wastewater resource infrastructure project loan funds between 2009 and 2018.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio Department of Agriculture, along with local entities, will develop Watershed Implementation Plans or Nonpoint Source Implementation Strategic Plans (NPS-IS Plans) in priority watersheds not already covered by a plan.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with local authorities, will track the installation of point source nutrient reduction best management practices (BMPs) since 2008.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will continue to work with local health districts to ensure implementation of their Operation and Maintenance Tracking programs for household sewage treatment systems (HSTS), as required under the Ohio Administrative Code.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) implements the EPA-delegated point source National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. The central and field PADEP offices take on different roles to develop the program and issue permits and then conduct necessary monitoring and enforcement activities for issued permits.
To reduce erosion and sediment pollution from earth disturbance activities (i.e., construction), regulations require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for new development, which include standards and criteria for minimizing erosion and post-construction stormwater management.
The Act 537 Program is generally administered by local entities and covers any sewage facility, whether it is a municipally-owned plant or an on-lot disposal system (septic system). Malfunctioning systems, regardless of type, pose a threat to public health and the environment.
The Erie County Department of Health (ECDH) plans to implement the SFTF program to better understand the impacts of the 166 permitted non-publicly owned wastewater treatment systems and SFTFs in the central basin watershed.
Possible partnerships to encourage municipal stormwater management coordination may use the cross-municipal expertise of Councils of Governments (regional planning groups) as well as Erie County government resources such as the Erie County Department of Planning and Erie County Conservation District.
New York State (NYS) implemented a ban on phosphorus-containing residential fertilizers in 2016 and will continue its active enforcement/surveillance program to monitor the compliance of residential fertilizer retailers.
Current operation and maintenance processes will be analyzed to seek opportunities for better nutrient removal.
Communities with combined sewer systems will implement Long-Term Control Plans (LTCPs) to reduce the frequency and volume of combined sewer overflow (CSO) events.
Indiana has 12 municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) in the Lake Erie basin, all of which have approved Storm Water Quality Management Plans (SWQMPs), as required by Indiana's general MS4 permit.
The Adams County Regional Sewer District (RSD) is extending sewers to the communities of Pleasant Mills, Arcadia Village, Rivare, Linn Grove, and Monmouth/Roe Acres.
Septic system installation, operation, maintenance, and repair will follow site-specific design regulations. Septic system failure rates will be tracked.
State funding through H2Ohio is available for local counties and health departments to repair or replace failing home sewage treatment systems (HSTSs). Since 2016, funding has also been awarded to local counties and health departments to direct funding assistance to eligible homeowners.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency funds infrastructure projects through H2Ohio that will improve water quality, which includes extending sewers to areas with high concentrations of failing home sewage treatment systems. The first project in the Lake Erie basin will construct a new waterwater collection and treatment system in Kunkle, Ohio, within the Maumee River watershed.