Some Relief Could Be Coming For Muddy Creek Residents

Mar 10, 2020

There could soon be some relief for Green Township residents who have been dealing with raw sewage in parts of Muddy Creek.

Residents along the creek have been complaining about the issue for years.  Their complaints include odors and even toilet paper hanging in trees along the creek.

Hamilton County commissioners could vote Thursday on a resolution that would direct the Metropolitan Sewer District to make temporary repairs, while work continues on a permanent fix.

"Not patching every single hole but patching the ones that are most egregious, where most of the leakage is happening to try to remedy some of that," says County Commission President Denise Driehaus. "And then also get the information that we have not seen from MSD yet related to those overflows, because the last thing we want to do is create a larger problem down in Sayler Park where we already have some issues with overflows."

The project to fix the Upper Muddy Creek interceptor problem has been on hold for more than a year, and federal regulators, under a consent decree, had wanted that work done by Dec. 31, 2019. The county and Cincinnati, which manages MSD, could face daily fines for missing that deadline.

The work is not done, and until now the county and MSD couldn't agree on how to fix it.

MSD officials agree the pipe needs to be replaced and moved out of the creek, but they didn't think it made sense to do a "temporary" repair.  They wanted to move to a permanent fix.  

But the county said MSD's plan was too expensive and would only move the sewer overflows downstream from where they are happening now.

Assistant County Administrator Holly Christmann says there was a lot of progress made during a meeting between county and city officials last week.  One of those was on moving the overflows further downstream.

"MSD is going to be providing the technical analysis and data to show that those concerns have been addressed," Christmann says. "We're anxious to get those results as you all can imagine, and we'll be reviewing those as quickly and thoroughly as possible in order to continue forward momentum on this project."

Federal regulators also weighed in on the Upper Muddy Creek interceptor in a federal court filing last week.  

Part of the argument between the city and the county involves the size of a replacement pipe.  The city wants a 36-inch pipe, and the county was looking at a 30-inch pipe, which would be less expensive.

"The regulators question the value of installing a 30-inch pipe in this area given that the decree ultimately requires the defendants to replace a section of the Muddy Creek interceptor with a total of 9,000 feet of 36-inch pipe," is written in the regulators filing. "The city's position thus appears to use better engineering practices, avoids the waste of having to redo under-sized replacement pipe, and rationally furthers ultimate consent decree compliance."

The Muddy Creek project is the latest project causing tension between the county and city concerning MSD.

The county owns the sewer district and sets rates and budgets for the agency. The city manages the utility and claims ownership of the treatment facilities and pipes that it brought to the system when MSD was established in 1968.

The 1968 agreement expired in 2018, but a federal judge has ordered the city and the county to continue the relationship until a replacement arrangement has been found.