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Resource ID: #26949
Subject: Finance
Source: Northeast Ohio Media Group
Affiliation: 
Date: Feb. 18 - March 4, Feb. 23 - March 7

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Description

In Money Down the Drain, Northeast Ohio Media Group reporters explored whether there is a less costly, greener alternative to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's $3 billion plan to manage stormwater and sewage by boring giant tunnels beneath the region. The series mapped the district's history of favoring so-called “gray infrastructure” to comply with federal clean water laws and debunked sewer officials' claims that green technologies - such as water retention ponds - would inherently be more costly than tunnels. The reporters researched the efficacy of alternative sewer management plans and visited Philadelphia, considered by many to be leading a movement by U.S. cities considering greener solutions to their messy sewage overflow problems. The four-part series concluded with an examination of potential opportunities to transform large expanses of vacant property in Cleveland into park-like stormwater retention features. The team did not set out to prove that green infrastructure is superior to tunnels. Rather, they aimed to expose the district's failure so far to consider alternatives that officials in other cities believe could save their ratepayers millions - if not billions - of dollars, while driving home to readers just how much the tunnels will cost them. Within a month of the series' conclusion, sewer district officials announced that they would spend $900,000 on green projects near a major road expansion program and pledged to study the possibility of replacing large stretches of the planned tunnel with green infrastructure.

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