Justices: Akron must share river water with downstream towns

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Akron must continue the same daily flow to downstream communities from its drinking water reservoir under a 95-year-old state law granting it water rights to the Cuyahoga River, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The high court ended an eight-year legal battle by directing Portage County Common Pleas Court to order the city to allow 8.1 million to 9.5 million gallons of water daily flow over its dam creating Lake Rockwell, a drinking water reservoir. The ruling modifies an appellate court ruling that did not specify the amount of water.

The Portage County communities of Cuyahoga Falls, Kent, Munroe Falls and Silver Lake sued in 1998, saying Akron takes too much water for city use and to sell to its suburbs. The communities are stuck between the dam and the point where Akron returns treated, used water to the river.

Akron had argued that a 1911 state law gave it unlimited right to the water in the Cuyahoga, but the justices said the right only extends to water touching land the city owns.

The court allowed Akron's boating ban on Lake Rockwell.

Three justices dissented with part of the opinion, saying they would order the release of nearly 11 million gallons daily, which would be closer to the river's natural flow, and allow boating because the lake is part of the Cuyahoga, which is a navigable river.

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