pollution focus of meeting
Victoria Hennessy discovered Massie Creek in Cedarvilles
Indian Mound park this summer as she bicycled on country roads while training
for a bike trip. She returned to the park over and over, attracted by
the beauty of the stream and the ancient history of the Indian Mound.
It seemed sacred, she said recently.
When she returned to the park last October, Hennessy was shocked to discover
human waste floating in the stream. Since then, she has followed with
dismay the continued pollution of the creek by an outdated and overloaded
Cedarville treatment plant.
Along with others concerned about the creek, Hennessy plans to attend
a public forum on the situation Tuesday, Feb. 18, at Cedarville High School,
248 North Main Street. Organized by Friends of Massie Creek, the forum
will feature officials of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the
U.S. EPA and Greene County, who will answer questions and address concerns.
Organizers hope for a good turnout for the forum, so that officials know
many people care about the future of Massie Creek.
We hope that people come together across community lines and send
the message that clean water is a priority, said Liz Mersky, one
of the events organizers. Its important that they know
this isnt just a few people whose wells are contaminated, but that
its impacting us all.
Hennessy, a local resident and biologist who teaches ecology at Sinclair
Community College, said that what happens in Massie Creek happens to everyone
in the area.
I have an appreciation for how fragile our ecosystems are. Massie
Creek feeds into the Little Miami River and its being destroyed,
she said. You lose a few species here and there and you know the
whole ecosystem is being altered.
For Bruce Cornett of the Green Environmental Coalition, the Massie Creek
contamination is significant because its a local example of environmental
pollution thats happening all over the country.
We have to work on the ones we can and this ones close,
he said. If it bothers you to see human waste in one of the best
streams in the state then you should go and let your voice be heard.
Area residents became aware of the problems this fall, when hikers discovered
human waste and toilet paper in the stream. The problem was linked to
the Cedarville treatment plant, long known to be outdated, but still processing
increased amounts of waste as new students returned to recently expanded
Cedarville University in September.
Ohio EPA testing has since revealed that, during peak hours, biological
solids present in the creek can reach 300 to 400 milligrams per liter
of water, compared to an acceptable level of 10 milligrams per liter.
Concerned citizens have expressed frustration at what they perceive as
a lack of response from both local and state officials. Greene County
officials did not post signs warning of the pollution until Jan. 14, and
the Ohio EPA did not take steps to shut down the plant. While Greene County
commissioners secured funding in December for construction of a new treatment
plant, the facility wont be completed for at least 18 months.
The Ohio EPA did send compliance experts to the plant last fall to determine
possible short-term actions, said Mersky, who lives on Massie Creek. While
the plant implemented several changes, such as adding different pipes
and putting in concrete baffles in attempts to provide additional aeration,
Mersky said that she believes the actions havent been effective,
and large amounts of human waste are noticeable on top of creek ice.
This week, the Ohio EPA took its most significant action, and notified
Greene County officials that they needed to make significant changes to
the plant by March 26 or else face possible fines of $10,000 a day, the
Dayton Daily News reported on Feb. 11. State and County officials met
this week to consider corrective actions and draw up a timetable for implementing
those actions, the paper said.
The Countys plan to correct the problem involves piping the treated
wastewater to a former sludge lagoon about 500 feet from the
plants discharge pipes, where the wastewater would sit for five
to six days while the waste solids settled, according to the DDN article,
before the wastewater is discharged to the creek.
However, the recent EPA action does not lessen the need for people to
attend the Cedarville meeting to express their concerns, said Mersky,
because an official EPA order has not yet been given. Even if the order
goes through, its not yet clear whether the treatment will work,
One of the main things Ive learned is that there is no agency
out there that is well-endowed enough either politically or financially
to take care of the problem, she said. Were going to have
to do it ourselves.