Every year heavy rains cause two billion gallons of water and sewage to overflow in Hamilton County.
One area in particular is in need of a $200 million dollar fix to help keep area waterways clean.
The Lick Run Valley Conveyance Enhancement Project covers 2,700 acres in the heart of the Queen City.
The project is a part of a much larger effort stemming from a federal requirement aimed at cleaning up Tri-state waterways.
On dry days, water coming out of combined sewer system gets carried away through a pipe to the water treatment plant, but when there are heavy rains the gates open and water overflows into Mill Creek. The current infrastructure simply cannot contain the increased volume.
At one time the land between Queensgate Avenue and Westwood Avenue in South Fairmount was under water and if MSD has its way the Lick Run stream will return.
"It used to be a stream and so it really makes sense to go back to the holistic way of how water used to be conveyed 100 years ago," MSD Director James Parrott told FOX19.
Initially the plan was to build a giant underground pipe to handle all of the water and sewage in the area without overflowing, but now MSD is proposing a cheaper idea that could also become a tool for development and job creation. Ultimately they would separate the sewer system with storm water drainage re-creating a waterway.
"We're going to see bikeways and pathways and you're going to see an opportunity for redevelopment for commercial zones and some residential districts," Parrott said of the project.
The $200 million dollar project is on Cincinnati's top 10 wish list for federal funding. Mayor Mark Mallory is lobbying for $20 million.
"I think it's a project that is not only a win-win for the utility and the community but it is also a project that is a model for how other cities can approach dealing with wet weather problems," Parrott argued.
The project has not been without its controversy. MSD sewer users are expected to pick of the tab for the bulk of the project and a number of citizens in area have fought the MSD buy-up of properties needed for the project.
Environmental regulators are supposed decide on whether they will sign off on MSD's plan for the project any day.
The lick run project is slated to be complete by 2018.
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