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Village Council — New water plant reexamined

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After hearing a presentation by a regional firm that designs and builds municipal water treatment plants, Village Council members indicated at their meeting on Monday, May 6, that they will consider just two options: getting water from Springfield or building a brand new water plant. Council members Gerry Simms and Karen Wintrow both stated this week that the previous option to renovate the existing water plant now appeared to be a waste of both time and money.

Last month Council tasked Village consulting engineer John Eastman with estimating the costs for various levels of rehabilitation of the Village water treatment plant. Council wanted to know how much money they would need to spend to get anywhere from one to 50 more years out of the plant, and how much time they had before the plant broke down to make a decision. They had strayed from the option of building new due to cost, but were compelled to reconsider after the presentation by Artesian of Pioneer’s Ed Kidston, who has been mayor of his small Ohio town for 16 years, who came highly recommended by Eastman, and whose family has built hundreds of water plants over the past 50 years across the Midwest. Kidston toured the Yellow Springs plant while he was here. Asked what he would do if the aging Yellow Springs plant were his, Kidston answered immediately.

“I would never give up local control of my water. When NASA explores another planet, the first thing they look for is water,” he said, adding that he has seen many conflicts arise between communities over water agreements.

Kidston estimated that a new plant with a 1 million gallon daily capacity would cost about $3.2–3.8 million, but it would last at least 50–60 years with an average of about $1,000 a year in maintenance. The new plant would include iron and manganese filtration and ion exchange softening, plus th ability to operate the old plant until the new one came online. Meanwhile even a major renovation of the existing plant (with a capacity to pump 500,000 gallons per day) would last about 20 years at a cost of about $2 million, plus additional maintenance costs each year. And there would still need to be a way to provide water to the village while the renovation is happening.

By the end of the discussion, Simms was convinced that investing any amount of money in the old plant was a waste.

We should be deciding to build new or get water from Springfield, then look for how to finance the decision … Let’s not spend any more time paying someone to tell me how bad my stuff is.”

Wintrow agreed, saying the money invested in even exploring renovation options would be fruitless.

“There is no point in rehabbing the plant to 50 years — you might as well build a new plant,” she said.

During the discussion, several villagers took the time to opine about the option to get water from Springfield. Karen Wygel said it was foolish to give up control of a precious resource and rely on a community with its own financial problems. Bob Baldwin suggested the Village research the opinions of Clark County Dr. Martin J. Cook, who before he died in 2012 had warned about the toxic threat the Tremont City landfill would someday pose to Springfield’s water supply.

Council plans to continue its water sourcing and distribution system discussions for the next few months, Council President Judith Hempfling said.

In other Council business:

• Council members unanimously agreed to table indefinitely a discussion about outsourcing the police dispatch to Xenia. The discussion arose several months ago when the option of centralizing in order to gain the use of more sophisticated technology and save money became available. But Wintrow said that Council understood that villagers did not want to give up local dispatch.

• The Village has contracted with Greene County Combined Health District to remediate the mosquitoes in the village by applying larvacide to pools and puddles of standing water, instead of spraying toxic insecticides. Vickie Hennessy of Green Environmental Coalition is working with Antioch College biomedical sciences professor Savitha Chrishna and students to implement a mosquito education and mitigation program for the village. The GEC and the college received grants from the Yellow Springs Community Foundation to fund the project.

• Miami Township Fire-Rescue has again rescheduled the controlled burn of the Barr property house located at Limestone and Xenia Avenue to Sunday, May 19.

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