It doesn’t come cheap. Creating and maintaining sewer infrastructure that addresses water quality and quantity is a big-ticket item. Few forces affect human health and the environment like these issues. It is vital that communities in Northeast Ohio have control.
No one understands that better than Timothy DeGeeter, mayor of the City of Parma and a board trustee for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD).
“Parma is the seventh largest city in Ohio, and, as an inner-ring suburb, has significant infrastructure needs,” says DeGeeter. “Based on sewer system evaluation studies by the NEORSD, we knew Krueger Avenue was in much need of sewer upgrades. That costs millions of dollars, and we can’t do it without the help of the sewer district.”
The $1 million Krueger Avenue Sewer Improvement Project/Phase 2 award was one of two 2023 Member Community Infrastructure Program (MCIP) awards given by NEORSD to Parma. The second award of an additional $235,000 was given for the East Linden Lane Pump Station Relocation and Replacement Project.
Additional 2023 funding was awarded to East Cleveland, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, Berea, Cleveland Division of Water Pollution Control, Newburgh Heights, Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, Beachwood, University Heights and North Royalton.
MCIP is a NEORSD funding program that assists member communities with cost-effective sewer infrastructure projects. Established seven years ago, MCIP has provided $62.5 million in grants to member communities. Projects include those designed to help with the elimination of flooded basements, the correction of improperly working septic tanks and prevention of sanitary sewer overflows. Communities often receive additional funding from other sources.
Applying for MCIP monies is a yearly competitive process. Communities with proposed projects can receive substantial help in the application process and are encouraged to re-try the following year if no award is made on the first attempt.
Recently, NEORSD also established its Equity Investment Focus Area Program, which created an alternative scoring process for applications. Donna Friedman, NEORSD manager of community watershed coordination, says the program was established to “make sure money is being more fairly allocated to communities that may not have as much money to match funding.”
“MCIP is available to all member communities with sewage that comes to our treatment plants and are in our service area,” says Friedman. “The Sewer District owns very large sewers, but we don’t own smaller, local sewers that are in communities. Our studies assist those cities to figure out where their issues might be and what the solutions might be.”
NEORSD research has identified that $3.4 billion is needed across the region to address those infrastructure concerns.
“There is a plethora of need out there,” says Friedman. “NEORSD helps pay for it with the money it receives through our wastewater program.
“Our funding source won’t solve all the problems, but fortunately there are other sources, and our partnerships and member communities are important,” Friedman says, confirming NEORSD’s commitment to environmentally sustainable and healthy communities.