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East Side residents hope MSD study can help prevent further sewer backups in their neighborhoods

Posted at 5:57 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 20:09:25-05

CINCINNATI — Hyde Park homeowner Shannon Dager recently poured thousands of dollars into repairing her basement after heavy rainfall in July caused sewage to back up into her basement. She described the ordeal as "horrific," and she said she and her neighbors live one day at a time, hoping another heavy rainfall doesn't cause a repeat problem in their homes.

"Everyone takes a deep breath and holds their breath," Dager told WCPO.

Dager and her neighbors have lobbied the Metropolitan Sewer District for months to provide assistance in repairing the damage, but they say their requests have gone unfulfilled because, MSD said, the cause of the backup was heavy rain and not a mechanical issue like clogged or broken pipes.

"The pictures of my kids were ruined," Dager said. "They were 20 years old... (MSD) came out and said not their problem."

After months of seeking answers from MSD, Dager and her neighbors might be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

MSD has proposed a study in the Hyde Park, Oakley and Norwood areas where there have been repeated sewer backups like that which destroyed Dager's basement.

"What we want to do is look at the data we have and consider solutions," said MSD Director Diana Christy. Christy spoke about the study Thursday during a public hearing. The study will cost $1 million and look into long-term solutions to prevent recurring sewer backups.

Christy said she hopes the study looks at the problem "from the standpoint of increasing capacity with capital improvement in those areas."

Dager said she hopes some of those capital improvements take place along Erie Avenue near her home.

"You can't change the past; they can't change what's there," she said. "But, they can make a more positive step moving forward, and they can make plans and address that."

But Dager also acknowledged that the need for improvements extends far beyond her neighborhood.

"It's not just a Hyde Park issue. It's an Oakley issue. It's a Mount Lookout issue. It's an east Cincinnati issue. So there's a large group of people being affected on a constant and daily basis," she said.

The sewer district commission will hold a second public hearing next week on the proposed study before considering whether or not to allocate the necessary $1 million to conduct the study. Commissioners are requesting more information on the status of other ongoing projects before granting their final approval.

The study would be funded through MSD's 2021 Capital Improvement Budget, not the agency's general operating fund.