Group’s sewer fight needs to include city lawsuit

Devola Against Sewering Homes (DASH) seems to be moving full steam ahead, fundraising for legal fees to fight an EPA order to sewer Devola homes.

Affected residents are being asked to contribute what they can to help DASH (a nonprofit formed by residents) pay the estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars it could take for a legal defeat of the order that would put a stop to the project.

We’re not against the efforts. The sewering is a seemingly unnecessary, very costly endeavor that could bankrupt some of Devola’s lower-income families and drastically impact the lifestyle of others. We understand why these residents want to make every effort to halt the project, especially since it seems as if public health experts outside the EPA believe the contaminants issue that originally led to the order has been fixed.

However, as DASH moves forward, there’s a big problem its members don’t seem to be addressing. The court case involving the Ohio EPA was only one of two court cases regarding this sewering project. Still working its way through the courts is a case the City of Marietta filed against the county. The two entities had a contract saying that Muskingum Township would be sewered and the city would upgrade its treatment plant to accommodate the growth. The city spent the money on its plant but there are no additional customers to help make up for the cost.

So, DASH could potentially win against the EPA only to be faced with another court order to sewer. Its officers said recently they don’t have a plan for this, only that they’re taking things one step at a time.

That’s not good enough when you’re asking households to contribute their hard-earned money in a really uncertain time. DASH needs to have a plan in place for how it might handle the second lawsuit, and residents need to be aware before they give money that even a long-shot win against the EPA isn’t a guarantee of stopping the project.

This is a two-pronged battle. Just focusing on one lawsuit isn’t enough. We hope DASH can put a plan together to address the full legal fight, not just a portion of it.