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.

high level illustration of the wastewater process

Related Investments

Ohio: CSO Loadings

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. 

United States: GLRI urban nonpoint source projects

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.

Ohio: Water Infrastructure upgrades

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.

Pennsylvania: NPDES point source permitting considerations

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.

Pennsylvania: NPDES erosion and sediment control permitting considerations

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.

Pennsylvania: Urban stormwater management and green infrastructure initiatives

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.

Ohio: Water infrastructure in underserved areas

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.