A bill has been introduced in the Ohio Legislature that would levy stiff fines and penalties on cities that dump raw sewage into the western basin of Lake Erie.
Republican Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) says a 2010 estimate says there are at least 41 billion gallons of sewage in Lake Erie alone.
“My God, how disgusting,” Cross says.
Cross says while farm runoff is often blamed for water quality problems, he says it’s cities dumping sewage that causes the lion’s share of the issues. So, his bill would increase penalties significantly and repeat offenders could face more than a million dollars in fines.
“We need to shoot one across the bow and take this bill and shove it right up their sewer pipes to catch their attention,” Cross says.
Cross also says lawmakers need to find federal dollars to pay for sewer upgrades for cities that don’t have adequate sewage plants.
Some Northwest Ohio cities say they are making improvements to their sewage operations. The city of Toledo has spent more than $500 million on its sewage system. It touts awards it has received in recent years as proof the city's sewage and water system is environmentally friendly. And Maumee, which has dumped sewage into the basin throughout the years, has recently raised rates on its residents to pay for improvements to its system.