By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MASON - It's a first for even the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Three Greater Cincinnati communities are asking for permits to discharge wastewater into the Little Miami River. A fourth is expressing intentions of doing the same.
State law limits discharge in order to keep waterways from becoming polluted; and at least one of the requests, if approved, would take up the lion's share of the overall amount allowable - prompting the other applicants to cry foul.
Residents and environmental groups want the state agency to reject the applications and explore ways of expanding waste treatment without dumping the byproducts into the river.
It was a busy night in Mason for the OEPA, which held a public hearing in the Warren County city Tuesday.
The state agency hoped to get residents' feedback on Mason's permit request to build a treatment plant so it can process 13 million gallons of wastewater a day, nearly three times its current limit.
Instead, the OEPA was inundated with appeals from Lebanon, Mason, and Warren County officials concerned that they might lose out in this fierce battle for space along the river, which ultimately means more opportunities for growth.
The Metropolitan Sewer District's Sycamore plant is asking the OEPA for a permit to expand to 9 million gallons per day.
And, some Clermont County residents, upset with their county's request for a permit and plans to build a new 2 million gallon per day treatment plant, questioned why the OEPA was even considering actions that could degrade the water quality of the Little Miami.
"I'm not some stupid, na‘ve, idiotic citizen who believes that there aren't better ways to do this," said Marie Brown, a Miamiville resident, opposed to Clermont County's application. "How much can our waterways take?"
OEPA officials said they are a long way from deciding whose applications will be approved and whose won't.
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