The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the Cleveland-area Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) storm water management program, and the authority of the District to adopt fees to run the program and build regional storm water management infrastructure and facilities. Some of the planned storm water facilities will be to manage storm water separated from their combined sewer system to address combined sewer overflows.  The decision turned on the interpretation under Ohio Rev. Code Chapter 6119 of the term “wastewater” which is expressly defined as including storm water.   

While this decision interprets a definition specifically for Regional Water and Sewer Districts organized under RC Chapter 6119, the bigger picture that storm water can be defined by a state legislature as a type of “wastewater” and that a funding source is available to manage it on a regional level, might come up in future debates about the regulation and control of storm water.  With this legal uncertainty out of the way for Regional Districts, there might be an increase in the creation of ORC Chapter 6119 regional districts just to manage storm water across multiple jurisdictions on a regional level.

Click here for a copy of the Court’s decision.