Senate Passes Water Infrastructure Bill with Brown Provision to Help Ohio Communities Prevent Sewer Overflows, Fund Renovation Projects

Senate-Passed Water Resources Development Act Authorizes $550 Million Brown Worked to Secure to Help Ohio Communities Eliminate Combined Sewer Overflow

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes $550 million in grant funding Brown worked to secure to help Ohio communities make costly updates to outdated combined sewage overflow (CSO) systems. While federal guidelines require municipalities to reduce the number of outdated CSO systems, Ohio communities are struggling to afford costly renovations to sewer systems and too often ratepayers bear the cost through rate increases. The grant funding announced today will help communities improve water quality and keep rates affordable for Ohio residents.  

“As Ohio communities work to protect local drinking water and reduce combined sewer overflows, we should be sure Ohio ratepayers aren’t hurt in the process,” said Brown. “These grants will help municipalities upgrade their water infrastructure while also reducing the financial burden for Ohio families.”

Combined sewer overflow threatens the health of Ohio waterways, including Lake Erie. CSOs can contribute to harmful algal blooms. In August, combined sewer overflow closed a Cleveland beach to swimming after raw sewage drained into Lake Erie.

Federal guidelines require municipalities to renovate these outdated systems to protect human health and the environment, but upgrades often prove too costly for many small communities. A 2012 EPA survey found more than 70 Ohio communities with serious sewage overflow problems amounts to a needed investment of $7.5 billion over the next 20 years.

In April 2016, Brown introduced legislation to help communities make renovations to outdated CSO systems, while improving water quality and keeping rates affordable for residents. Provisions of Brown’s bill were included in the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.