Water pollution claim tapped for favorites list
By Robert Higgs
Published on Friday, December 23rd, 2011 at 1:00 p.m.
Industrial pollution made national news and made Cleveland the butt of jokes in 1969 after the Cuyahoga River caught fire -- not for the first time -- and did $50,000 damage to bridges. The fire helped focus attention on environmental problems and contributed to passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972.
Water pollution from sanitary sewer and storm runoff has had a lower profile. But the issue has been important to Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek "for more years than I care to recall," he has said. There are almost two miles of lakefront in his ward and a good portion of that is public beach.
A comment of his regarding water treatment was chosen as one of PolitiFact Ohio's favorites for 2011. The item was posted to PolitiFact Ohio on Jan. 4. It was drawn from a statement Polensek made at a meeting late in November 2010.
At that meeting of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Polensek spoke of his support for a $3 billion settlement with EPA that could triple sewer rates in Cleveland and about 60 suburbs, but would pay for mandated construction work to deal with combined sanitary and storm sewer overflows.
"Let's face it, this is the year 2010 and we're worse than a Third World country in terms of water quality and the way we treat our sewage," Polensek told sewer district trustees. "What we're paying for now is really an indictment of the 40-year delay in living up to the Clean Water Act."
Could the water quality really be as bad as that of a Third World nation? PolitiFact Ohio rated his claim Half True.
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