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MSD Takes Giant Step To Healthy Mill Creek

Nationally Recognized Lower Mill Creek Solution Submitted To Regulators

Cincinnati has taken a giant step forward to a healthy, vibrant Mill Creek with the submission of a nationally recognized solution to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into this critical water resource.

The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati has formally submitted to Federal and State Regulators1 a leading-edge solution for reducing 1.78 billion gallons of CSOs into the Mill Creek and its tributaries by 2018 during Phase 1 of MSD's Consent Decree. This integrated solution will not only improve water quality but will serve as a catalyst to improve local neighborhoods.

Known as the "Revised Original Lower Mill Creek Partial Remedy," this solution is recognized as a national model for the sustainable management of stormwater to reduce CSOs. The approach seeks to reduce CSOs by primarily focusing on keeping stormwater out of combined sewers during heavy rains.

"The remedy is an example of innovative wet weather control that provides highly cost-effective compliance with our Consent Decree while simultaneously setting the groundwork to enhance our communities," said James A. "Tony" Parrott, MSD's Executive Director.

The remedy was submitted to the Regulators in fulfillment of obligations under MSD's Consent Decree.

Highlights of the remedy include an approach that:

  • Integrates CSO reduction, stormwater management, flood control and community improvements in one solution,
  • Promotes community development to help neighborhoods succeed in the 21st century,
  • Serves as a national model under USEPA's new "Integrated Planning Framework," which integrates federal, state, county, city, community and other partners.

With this submittal, the Regulators are being formally requested to approve the Revised Original Lower Mill Creek Partial Remedy as a substitute and replacement for the deep tunnel solution (referred to as the Original LMCPR).

The remedy includes a suite of projects in the following sub-watersheds within the Lower Mill Creek watershed: Lick Run, Kings Run, West Fork and Bloody Run. The projects will eliminate the CSOs at a cost of $244 million (estimate is in 2006 dollars).

Project highlights include:

  • The Lick Run project reduces overflows into the Mill Creek from the largest CSO in MSD's system by an estimated 650 million gallons annually. This project keeps stormwater out of the combined sewer system through new stormwater sewers, stormwater detention basins and the daylighting of Lick Run, a creek culverted for more than a century in South Fairmount. The project will also help reduce localized flooding and improve community conditions.
  • The West Fork project reduces overflows into the West Fork Channel, a tributary of the Mill Creek, by an estimated 173 million gallons. It addresses the largest overflow in the West Fork watershed and removes a significant volume of natural drainage from Mt. Airy Forest, the largest park in the City.
  • The Kings Run project reduces overflows into the Mill Creek and the Kings Run tributary by an estimated 156 million gallons. This project mainly includes stormwater detention basins and new stormwater sewers to reduce overflows in the Wooden Shoe neighborhood.
  • The Bloody Run project reduces overflows into the Mill Creek by an estimated 93 million gallons. This project includes the installation of real time controls near CSO 181, which discharges through a channel to the Mill Creek. Real-time controls include gates, pumps and inflatable dams, etc. that are constructed inside sewer lines to divert excess flows to a different part of the sewer system to prevent overflows.

This remedy saves ratepayers more than $200 million as compared to the cost of the deep tunnel. The mandated fix is now more affordable for MSD's ratepayers and also helps realize additional benefits for ratepayers and citizens in our communities beyond just water quality.

The Regulators are anticipated to make a decision on the proposed solution in early 2013.

For more information, please visit or contact MSD Engineering Customer Service at 513-557-3594 or