It might be too late, but the Akron Tea Party is fighting to block the federal Environmental Protection Agency from imposing a costly sewer solution that would require 100 percent compliance with EPA regulations barring any spillover from sanitary sewer lines into storm water sewer lines during periods of heavy rain.
Tea Party members occasionally strayed off topic during Tuesday night's meeting at the , but for the most part the subject was how to find a less expensive solution and also an opportunity for candidates for office to stump a bit. Between 50 and 60 people attended.
Akron Tea Party President Dana Adams, who said he fishes in the Cuyahoga River, was quick to acknowledge that the improving the river's water quality is much needed, but the 100 percent compliance "ultimatum" would cost most Summit County households an estimated $800 to $1,200 a year.
The party argues that the increased costs will drive away residents in Summit County, hurt property values and discourage business growth.
Adams said while going door-to-door or at public events meeting potential voters, he found that many people showed little interest in issues until he asked them if they knew they could soon be paying an extra $800-$1,200 a year for their sewer service. "The sewage rate issue has legs," Adams said.
Although the Akron Tea Party is officially nonpartisan, Tea Party members tend to be conservative and tend to lean toward Republican views. Literature at the meeting targets U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, all Democrats, who favor a 100 percent compliance plan.
The Tea Party advocates a so-called 80/20 plan, meaning that 80 percent of the improvement to water quality can be achieved with 20 percent of the cost. Such a plan had been submitted by the city of Akron and approved by the Ohio EPA, but was rejected by the federal EPA and the case wound up in court.
U.S. District Judge John Adams has rejected the 80/20 plan.
The sewer issue has been around for a while, and utility customers have balked at the price of the solution, while others say a solution is past due.
Adams said the EPA is driving the sewer issue. "One way to beat it is to change the leadership in Washington," he said.