Deep tunnel will divert Columbus stormwater runoff to treatment plant

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Stormwater runoff has confounded motorists and homeowners around downtown Columbus and adjacent neighborhoods for decades, and reduced the overall water quality of the Scioto River.

A 4.5-mile long tunnel nearly 200 feet below the surface, with a diameter of 20 feet excavated beneath downtown Columbus and the Scioto River, has now been fully excavated. Crews used a 95-ton tunnel boring machine.

The existing near-surface Olentangy-Scioto Interceptor Sewer will funnel water into the new tunnel, which will travel to the Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant, before safely filtering into the Scioto River. Stormwater currently ends up in streams and ditches, eventually feeding into the Scioto River full of contaminants.

The $371 million tunnel and two odor-control facilities near downtown is the largest capital project in the history of the City of Columbus-known as the Olentangy-Scioto Interceptor Sewer Augmentation Relief Sewer project (OARS for short).

The tunnel project and upgraded treatment facilities will be fully operational in 2017. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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