Toledo Water & Sewage Clean-Up Rolls On

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TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - With a total price tag of over 500 million dollars, the Toledo Water initiative is nearly three quarters complete. It's taken years to get this far.

Local kayakers are often the first ones on the Ottawa River during the spring, and the last ones to leave, once it gets cold. They have concerns about the health of the river after one of their fellow kayakers got sick a few years ago. And tonight, they'll have a chance to voice those concerns with city.

"The worst thing I've seen, is there's foam that develops on the river," paddler Dave Zobler said.

"They're boaters, they're very interested in our waterways for recreational purposes, and the cleaning of our waterways," Julie Cousino said.

Cousino runs the Toledo Waterways Initiative for the City of Toledo.

Members of the Toledo Waterways Initiative are meeting with those boaters tonight. It will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Ottawa River Yacht Club. The event is free and open to the public.

"We've been kayaking on the Ottawa River once a week, for six years," Zobler said.

Zobler paddles just downstream from the Ottawa River clean-up project.

"The Ottawa River storage facility at Joe E. brown Park. That's our largest project in the program," Cousino said. "That will be completed of November of 2017."

Meanwhile, this overflow point near International Park - a fountain for raw sewage. The new basin will store 5.2 million gallons of overflow underground.

"The sewer systems that were designed within the city of Toledo were mainly designed to just take the water and put it into the Maumee River, Swan Creek, into the Ottawa River," Dr. Daryl Dwyer said. "Just to get rid of it as quickly as they could."

Dr. Dwyer is an associate professor at the University of Toledo. He's a water quality and water pollution expert, but is not a part of the Toledo Waterways Initiative.

Pollution into Toledo waters forced the EPA to mandate Toledo to clean up its water and its act. The initiative, started in 2002, focuses on flooding rain.

"And so when you have a big rain event, you have lots of water pouring into the system," Dr. Dwyer said.

But now they'll...

"Have the capacity to take it there to treat it, and release it into the Maumee River," Cousino said.

"And that should really help the water quite a bit in the lake," Dr. Dwyer said.

The group of projects should be completed by 2020. On average, planners say 650 million gallons of untreated sewage will now be stopped from reaching our lakes and rivers.