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      $315M sewer expansion headed for Toledo

      The City of Toledo has agreed to expand its sewer system much further than originally planned, after prodding from the U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection agencies.

      An original agreement was reached by the city and the EPA in 2002. A new plan, agreed to on Thursday, is much more extensive than the original and comes at an estimated cost of $315 million.

      The expansion is in an effort to keep the city from discharging as much untreated sewage into Swan Creek and the Maumee and Ottawa Rivers as possible. The U.S. Justice Department says the effort will mean safer use of those water sources for people as well as a healthier environment for aquatic life. Officials hope the combined reduction in dumping will be reduced from an average of 35 times per year to an average of zero to four times per year.

      The Environmental Protection Agency is committed to enforcing laws that protect the public from exposure to discharges of raw sewage. This agreement shows that when vigorous enforcement is combined with creative and determined negotiation, municipalities, the United States and states can find workable solutions to improving sewer systems that are inadequate for modern needs, said Susan Hedman, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 5.