Frost Brown Todd helps City of Lima Obtain Landmark Decree

Frost Brown Todd attorneys help City of Lima to obtain first USEPA-approved integrated stormwater/wastewater decree to address wet weather issues, with expanded financial affordability criteria

November 21, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Ohio EPA lodged the first USEPA-approved integrated stormwater and wastewater consent decree to address wet weather issues in the City of Lima, Ohio, on November 19, 2014.  The decree addresses the City’s wet weather overflows in a schedule of integrated projects designed not just to reduce overflows to acceptable levels, but also to simultaneously address the City’s stormwater control and future Clean Water Act obligations.  The decree is the first approved integrated plan under USEPA’s June 5, 2012, integrated planning policy.  Integrating the City’s stormwater and wastewater planning and obligations enabled it to obtain a longer, more affordable schedule that reduces the rate burden to the City’s residents and businesses. 

In addition, the proposed decree includes for the first time an agreement by USEPA to formally expand the list of financial affordability criteria that the City can present to support a modification to the compliance schedule if the City’s financial condition should change.  Historically, environmental agencies have largely restricted the assessment of financial affordability to the ratio of sewer rates to median household income under guidance issued by USEPA in 1997.  That guidance has come under severe criticism in recent years, as being outdated and for failing to consider numerous other factors that impact a local government’s ability to afford wet weather-related sewer projects. 

Stephen P. Samuels, a member of Frost Brown Todd’s Environmental Practice Group, was co-counsel to the City of Lima during the negotiations of the decree.  You can access the decree here.  If you would like to learn more about the decree and how Frost Brown Todd can assist you with wet weather-related issues, please contact Mr. Samuels or any other member of the Environmental Practice Group.  Frost Brown Todd is a full service law firm with over 500 lawyers and offices in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.