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Village Council— Rehab option for water plant

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Regarding how best to source local water, Village Council may have a third option besides sourcing water from Springfield or constructing a new water plant. That option is rehabbing the current plant, which was deemed “not broken. It’s functioning,” by an analyst from the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program (ORCAP), an organization that consults with communities to meet their drinking water needs. Council had hired ORCAP to conduct an environmental and operational study of the plant.

“You have a system that’s working. It needs some TLC but it’s doable,” said Scott Strahley of ORCAP, at Council’s June 3 meeting.

However, Strahley did not have a cost estimate regarding rehabbing the plant, and said that a preliminary engineering study would be necessary to provide an accurate figure. The cost would likely rise if it includes adding to the plant the ability to remove the manganese that causes brown water and the ability to soften water, Strahley said.

The option of rehabbing the 50-year-old plant had been presented to Council in 2011 as the most cost effective option by consulting engineer John Eastman of LJB Engineering, who completed a preliminary cost analysis of the three water sourcing options. However, the plant rehab option was taken off Council’s table earlier this year when Village Manager Laura Curliss reported that the rehab work would require shutting the plant down, an option considered not workable.

However, according to Strahley, necessary repairs could be made in a rotational fashion, so that the plant could continue to function during rehabbing. Several bolts that are considered critically corroded could be replaced “rotationally,” the pipes are “pretty good” and routine maintenance could keep the sand filtering system operational, he said.

“I’ve seen much worse,” Strahley said of the local plant. “It ain’t broke. You can fix it.”

Council will receive financial estimates of sourcing Springfield water and a new plant construction at its June 17 meeting.

To improve the energy efficiency of the plant, Strahley suggested that the Village replace one of the plant’s service pumps and add variable frequency drive controls, or VFDs, in order to have the capacity to regulate water flow. Doing so would save the Village about 20 percent in energy use per year, according to Strahley. Currently, the Village spends about $20,600 per year in total energy costs, although within 15 years the cost will likely to rise to about $25,000, according to an executive summary of Strahley’s analysis. Council members will receive the complete ORCAP analysis at the end of this week.

Strahley also questioned that the Village is losing an estimated 50 percent of the water produced in the plant, as reported at previous meetings. A loss of 10 to 20 percent of water production is normal, according to Strahley, who recommended that the Village “dig deeper” in making sure that all entities using water, including the local pool or fire department, are being accurrately metered.

“You’re probably not losing as much as you think you are,” he said.

Also at the meeting, Village Water Superintendent Joe Bates gave a presentation on the local well field. While Curliss had previously stated that the Ohio EPA might require the Village to install a new well, which would be an added cost for the Village, Bates reported that the OEPA has no plans to make that request. He also reported that he and Curliss met with Linda Aller of Bennet Williams, who had helped to write the local wellhead protection plan. Aller stated that the Village’s plan was “in good shape,” and would not require much time or cost to update. However, Curliss said that implementing the plan would still involve considerable staff time.

In response to a queston from villager Sue Abendroth, Strahley said that sourcing water from Springfield could end up the least expensive option due to economy of scale, which allows Springfield to spread its cost over more people. Also, he recommended a longterm contract because it could lock in cost savings, he said.

During citizen concerns, Harry Lipsitt of the James McKee Group urged Council to form a task force to study the water sourcing issue. In the past, Council has frequently used such groups when important decisions are being made, he said, and while the McKee Group had intended to sponsor a forum on the water issue, the group was not able to put together a panel for the forum. He also stated that he felt Council acted inappropriately in a recent meeting when it was stated that Curliss could not be a part of a panel due to restrictions in the Village employee manual. He studied the manual and found no restrictions, Lipsitt said.

“I feel I was treated badly,” he said.

Council Vice President Lori Askeland, who was acting president due to the absence of Judith Hempfling, stated in response that “you’re raising issues worth spending some time on and thinking about carefully.” She said she would attempt to have a response at Council’s next meeting.

“I take your feelings of being disrespected seriously,” Askeland said.

Council has already spent considerable time focused on the water sourcing issue, and it’s too late at this point to organize a task force, according to Karen Wintrow.

“I feel we are doing a respectable job presenting this information in a fair and balanced way and giving opportunities for dialogue,” Wintrow said.

Council members also said they will have a special meeting to allow citizens an additional opportunity to speak on the issue.

But such a meeting needs to provide citizens the opportunity to make follow-up statements if they feel their initial comments are not being addressed, according to villager Peggy Erskine.

In other Council business:

• Council unanimously approved a tap-in waiver that Antioch College had requested for its upcoming refurbishing of the Curl gym as a wellness facility. Such a facility will benefit the whole community, Council members said, and the waiver is also an opportunity to partner with the college.

• Council will hold a special meeting on the zoning code update on Wednesday, June 12, at 7 p.m. at Council chambers. An additional meeting on the code update will take place, if needed, on Wednesday, July 10.

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