Ohio Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Sewer District in Stormwater Fee Case

On Sept. 15, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) is authorized to manage stormwater and can impose a fee for that purpose.

“This is a great victory for the region,” said Darnell Brown, NEORSD’s Board of Trustees president. “Stormwater is causing damage and inter-community flooding problems, and we can now tackle this growing problem with a regional solution.”

NEORSD is now authorized to manage stormwater, including flows not combined with sewage. It can operate stormwater facilities, create and implement a regional program, and charge fees to implement that program, including fees for the use or service of water resources projects as well as benefits provided by those projects.

The sewer district can move forward with its Regional Stormwater Management Program, which is designed to address flooding, stream-bank erosion, and water quality issues throughout much of Northeast Ohio. A prior court ruling suspended the sewer district’s program, effectively terminating construction projects and maintenance work. All billing was suspended and collected funds were placed into escrow.

“We are pleased with the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision and the statewide impact it has for other similarly governed agencies across the state,” said NEORSD’s Chief Legal Officer Marlene Sundheimer. “The Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals’ prior ruling jeopardized stormwater programs throughout Ohio, and now, without a doubt, we can continue to address large-scale stormwater problems on a regional basis.”

NEORSD has not set a specific date to restart its program. “There is a tremendous amount of work required to resurrect this vital program,” said Frank Greenland, director of watershed programs. “$20 million in fees was collected before the program was suspended, and we will work diligently to prioritize projects and resolve regional flooding and erosion problems.” Read more.

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