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Sewage plant work progresses

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While the horses may have their manes a bit ruffled, members of the Village staff are nothing but relieved to have started digging the giant crater behind the Riding Centre that will serve as the overflow basin for the town’s wastewater treatment plant. Thanks to a federal stimulus grant the Village received this year, the 2.5 million gallon retention basin is the most dramatic phase in a series of upgrades the Village has long needed to bring the wastewater plant back into compliance with its federal permit. According to Village Planner Ed Amrhein, the treatment plant upgrade is the biggest excavation project the Village has managed since the 1992 upgrade of the Bryan Community Center.

The overflow basin is part of the upgrade project that the Village needs to increase the plant’s wastewater treatment capacity. The plant typically treats 300,000 gallons of effluent per day, and its maximum capacity is 600,000 gallons per day. But at times of heavy rainfall, due to a leaky wastewater collection system throughout the village, the plant was unable to treat the volume that sometimes reached over a million gallons at one time.

The upgrade includes both increasing the plant’s capacity and installing the basin to hold the overflow until it can be properly treated, as well as addressing general maintenance issues that have arisen since the plant was last upgraded in 1988. The entire project is expected to cost the Village $2.36 million, just slightly higher than an earlier estimate of $2.3 million, according to Village Manager Mark Cundiff. Part of the cost will be covered by the $750,000 stimulus loan (which is treated like a grant), and a $1.2 million Issue 2 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission will also cover parts of the excavation and electrical contractors’ fees. Cundiff expects the remaining costs to be paid for through the Village sewer fund reserves and loans, he said.

“I don’t anticipate transferring general fund money to the sewer fund to pay for this,” he said last week. “All the Village’s enterprise funds have to be run like a business — they’re fee-based and should be self-sufficient.”

The Village began planning for the plant upgrade in 2006, when the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency changed the effluent standards required for the plant’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Also due to the leaky pipes, for many years before that the plant had been allowing untreated sewage to flow down to the Yellow Springs stream. Though the Village engineered plans for an estimated $2.2 million upgrade, financial constraints forced the delay of the project, and the plant continued to violate its permit. Finally in June 2008, the Village entered into negotiations with the EPA, which fined the Village $76,000 and mandated a compliance schedule. The entire plant upgrade is expected to be completed by spring of 2010. The Village is still talking with EPA officials regarding the payment of the fine, Cundiff said.

Meanwhile the Village is working to complete the project by the spring. Contractors have already installed an additional sludge line to increase the plant’s capacity and nearly completed the excavation of the overflow basin. According to Amrhein, they have still to install the trenchline to the basin, concrete chutes, and the pump that will bring the overflow back into the treatment plant at the appropriate rate.

“Water lines are like the veins in our body, it’s the lifeline of the community, being able to get safe water out to residents,” Cundiff said. “It’s a major project to fix, but now we won’t have to send untreated water to the Glen or to our friends in Xenia.”


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