Infrastructure & Services

Stimulus money down the drain— Wastewater funds allocated

The long-awaited improvements to the Village wastewater treatment plant have finally been funded and approved, and the Village received a permit to install the new equipment this week. The $2.64 million project will be funded by state and federal stimulus grants and is expected to be completed by late 2010.

Village engineering consultant John Eastman presented a report on the funding at the July 6 Village Council meeting.

As a condition of receipt of the stimulus monies, the public must be given the opportunity to comment on the project plans, and Eastman encourages villagers do to so. Residents may access detailed plans and reports at Village offices on the second floor of the Bryan Center and send comments to administrative assistant Ruthe Ann Lillich by mail or at RLillich {at} yso(.)com.

The Village wastewater plant has been out of compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 2007, when the EPA reduced the legal limit of phosphorous allowed in the effluent from wastewater plants. In addition, the plant has not been upgraded since 1988, according to Water and Wastewater Superintendent Joe Bates. Since that time, the stormwater infiltration through an increasingly leaky collection system has overburdened the treatment plant and caused less than acceptable effluent to drain down to the Glen during heavy rains.

To upgrade the plant, the Village was recently awarded a $750,000 stimulus grant (under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) in addition to a $1.12 million Ohio Public Works Commission grant. Together, both grants will reduce by half the money the Village needs to borrow to finance the wastewater project, according to Village Manager Mark Cundiff, who applied for the stimulus funds. The grants will also reduce the burden on the Village sewer fund and alleviate any immediate need to raise sewer rates, he said this week.

“Without the stimulus money we would have had to pledge the full faith of the sewer fund and possibly the general fund if that was not enough,” he said. “We probably would have had a sewer rate increase to help generate additional money to pay for the debt service.”

The upgrade consists mainly of installing equipment to handle excess flow, to meet permit limits for phosphorous and ammonium nitrate, to manage sludge disposal, to provide back-up power and to replace worn-out equipment, according to Eastman, of LJB Inc. The bulk of the project’s cost will go to installing a 6,000 cubic yard overflow basin just south of the plant on Grinnell Road and a new set of biological treatment tanks with a patented process and computer automated controls. The older headworks also need significant upgrades, Eastman said.

The permit to install issued by Ohio EPA on July 1 will allow bids to be taken in mid-August. Construction could start as early as October this year, according to Eastman.

The Village was cited in the spring of 2008 by the Ohio EPA and fined almost $77,000 for violation of the plant’s national pollutant discharge elimination system permit by exceeding effluent limits on several occasions and failing to meet deadlines for necessary improvements to the plant. The debt is still outstanding, but Cundiff said this week that the EPA was considering donating the money from the fine to benefit the victim of the pollution, which in this case appears to be Glen Helen.

Other items of business from Council’s July 6 meeting, including a discussion of the Village Comprehensive Plan, will be covered in next week’s paper.

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