200,000 population
Challenges
Akron historically has discharged an estimated 1.2 billion gallons of combined
sewer overflows (CSOs) per year. Also due to excess flows during heavy rainfall
events, the city's wastewater treatment facility discharged an average 1.2 billion
gallons of partially treated wastewater per year into the Cuyahoga River and
its tributaries resulting from bypasses of the secondary treatment units. The
Cuyahoga River is impaired by bacteria, nutrients, and dissolved oxygen. In
2014, a U.S. District Court entered a consent decree with U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and
Akron that required Akron to implement its long-term control plan (LTCP) (as
updated in 2011). At the time of the consent decree, Akron had already reduced its CSO volume to 816 million
gallons per year. The LTCP included separating a portion of its combined sewers, installing 10 storage basins and
2 wastewater storage tunnels, upgrading the wastewater treatment facility, and completing collection system
projects. The city estimated it would cost more than $1.14 billion to implement the required projects by 2027 to
meet the required level of control of zero untreated overflows in a typical year and zero bypasses of secondary
treatment at the wastewater treatment facility. Akron raised sewer rates significantly between 2005 and 2015 but
determined that current sewer rates were not high enough to pay for the consent decree projects and meet other
Clean Water Act obligations, such as stormwater requirements.
Chittenden Green Project, Bioretention and Rain Garden.
Photo courtesy of City of Akron.
The City of Akron, in northeastern Ohio, has a population of about 200,000.
Akron operates combined and separate sanitary sewer systems in addition to
storm sewers. The combined and separate sanitary sewer systems transport
wastewater to the city's wastewater treatment facility,1 which discharges to the
Cuyahoga River, while the storm sewer system discharges to the Ohio Canal
and Little Cuyahoga River. These tributaries flow to the Cuyahoga River, which
is the southern gateway to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. In 2019, the
national river conservation organization American Rivers named the Cuyahoga
River its "River of the Year" to celebrate the environmental progress made
during the prior 50 years.
AkronWaterways
Renewed!
EPA Region S
Integrated Planning in Action
In December 2013, Akron began an integrated planning process to consider green infrastructure and other
innovative solutions that might improve water quality faster and more cost-effectively than the existing LTCP
projects. The city involved the public throughout this process through educational events, meetings, and a
1 "Wastewater treatment facilities" (WWTFs) is a generic term for facilities that treat or manage wastewater, including publicly owned
treatment works.

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stakeholder group it formed. Akron also communicated
with stakeholders through newspaper articles, utility
bill mailers, and a website. The city rebranded its CSO
program as Akron Waterways Renewed! to better
communicate the benefits of improving water quality to
the public.
Akron first chose projects to include in the integrated
plan and prioritized them based on environmental,
economic, and social benefits (graphic below). The
prioritization process identified which projects would
be implemented first. The city scored projects based
on weighted criteria (see chart below). The highest-
scoring projects included some of the original LTCP
projects as well as alternatives to LTCP projects. These
included improvements to the wastewater treatment
facility, the use of green infrastructure to attenuate CSO
flows and capture stormwater in the separate storm
sewer areas, dam removal, streambank restoration,
flood mitigation, and sanitary sewer rehabilitation.
The city used a financial model to compare integrated
plan project scenarios with the original LTCP projects.
The model was able to prioritize and sequence projects
based on funding availability, rate requirements, cost,
affordability, and construction schedules. Once the
Triple Bottom Line Weighted Criteria Based on
Economic, Social, and Environmental Categories
Cooperative funding sources
Local jobs
Revenue growth
Operational efficiency
Recreational opportunities
Quality of life
Public health protection
Community engagement
and stewardship
Habitat enhancement
and restoration
Pollutant reduction
Sustainability initiatives
Regulatory compliance
0%
5%
Economic criteria
Social criteria
10% 15% 20%
Environmental criteria
modeling framework was set up, Akron assessed
alternative scenarios to estimate costs, future
schedules, affordability, and rate increases. The city
modeled scenarios with construction completion by
2027 and 2040. Akron concluded that the integrated
plan projects would require a cumulative lower rate
increase through 2040 compared to the original LTCP
projects.
As part of the integrated planning process, Akron also
modeled the environmental benefits of the integrated
plan projects compared to the original LTCP projects.
Akron concluded that the integrated plan would reduce
the same CSO and bypass volume as the original LTCP,
through a suite of projects carried out earlier than in the
original LTCP schedule. Proposed green infrastructure
would reduce total suspended solids and bacteria
in stormwater while providing additional community
benefits.
Results
Akron submitted the City of Akron Integrated Plan
in 2015. In 2016 and 2019, EPA agreed to amend the
consent decree to require Akron to complete some
of the projects in the integrated plan by 2027. These
included some green infrastructure projects, partial
sewer separation, and a bypass treatment technology
at the wastewater treatment facility—along with revised
project sequencing. As of 2019, the city had completed
or started 92 percent of the projects required under the
consent decree, and it had saved an estimated $158
million on project costs through integrated planning
since 2015. In addition, by prioritizing bypass treatment
technology at the wastewater treatment facility, Akron
was able to expand secondary treatment capacity
faster than anticipated, resulting in secondary treatment
of 826 million gallons of wastewater above what the
consent decree required.
In March 2020, Akron accepted the Outstanding
Achievement Award from the American Council of
Engineering Companies for one of the integrated plan
projects: the Aqueduct Street Green Improvement
project, completed in 2018. Akron also received Gold
Level recognition in the Ohio EPA's Encouraging
Environmental Excellence program.
For more information, visit EPA's integrated planning Report to Congress webpage at:
https://www.epa.gov/npdes/inteqrated-planninq-municipal-stormwater-and-wastewater
SEPA
EPA-832-F-21-015 I June 2021

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