The push for a regional approach to storm water management in Northeast Ohio is moving ahead, but not without parochial griping from local communities. The trouble is, flooding doesn’t follow political boundaries. What’s needed is to focus on an approach that improves water quality across the Lake Erie watershed.
Under the terms of the plan approved last week by a Cuyahoga County common pleas judge, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will return to area communities 25 percent of a storm water management fee it will begin collecting from property owners in January. (The sewer district originally proposed 7.5 percent.) The district covers most of Cuyahoga County and parts of Lake, Lorain and Summit counties.
Local officials say their share of the money should be returned automatically, while sewer district officials argue the communities should have to apply for the funds on a project-by-project basis. Given the generous 25 percent set aside by Judge Thomas Pokorny, the sewer district rightly insists on projects that fit into a comprehensive storm water management plan.
The dispute thus goes to the heart of the reason the district was created in the first place, correctly noted Julius Ciaccia Jr., its executive director. The lack of a coordinated approach to controlling storm runoff, with each community responding individually, meant that problems with erosion and poor water quality would continue.
The value of a regional approach is that, by acting together, communities can accomplish far more good than when acting alone.