Bridgeport, EPA working together

BRIDGEPORT – Village council met in special session Tuesday to discuss additional cooperation with the EPA.

EPA officials attended the meeting after Mayor John J. Callarik had asked them to fill council in on the problems the Eastern Ohio Regional Waste Water has had with flooding in the local plant. Callarik said he first became aware of this problem after a meeting that was held in Bellaire.

“The way I look at it is that you are here to help us,” said Callarik, who has seen the sewage problem in Bridgeport. “I really appreciate you being here, and I don’t want to get all the people in town shook up about it like it is going to cost a lot of money. We don’t know what it is going to cost I’m a 100 percent for you working with us.”

The cost Callarik is referring to is in regards to fixing the sewage problems in the town, which will be undetermined until a plan is put into place.

In August, the EPA sent out a set of orders to communities about the concerns they, as an agency, have with the collection system in these satellite communities. One of the main problems is sewage back up.

“There has to be someone responsible within the community that is going to take responsibility,” said Jennifer Witty, a representative for EPA. “Some of the concerns we have is proper operation, maintenance of the collection system We are asking you guys to get more involved with your collection system.”

Witty went on to mention that the state mandates there must be a licensed operator to oversee the system. In addition to having an operator, those involved need to learn the collection system and identify the problem.

The EPA is asking Bridgeport, along with the other communities, to voluntarily sign a list of orders for the agency to address. There are currently no penalties, but resisting will come with a price.

“If there is resistance and the communities are not willing to talk and work with (the EPA) and voluntarily sign the orders, we are going to be put in a position that we will have to send these cases over to the attorney general’s office and, at that point, there will be a penalty,” said Witty, who does not want to go that route. “We want to work with you guys. We are asking each of the communities to start mapping and figuring out their collection system and figuring out where your problems are.”

While this could cost the village money, Witty states that there is grant money out there for situations and communities like Bridgeport. But Witty stressed the corrections are not overnight fixes, but rather will take time.

“I’ve heard everything you said here tonight and I believe in and I know we can do it,” said Callarik. “I think we can make it all happen, we have good people in the water department and they’re all for it. You have the right group here for the support.”

“I don’t think we are going to have any trouble passing anything. We are going to have to pass it, whether they like it or not,” said Callarik.

Council members in attendance were in agreement with the mayor, but there was no movement on anything yet. There were not enough council members present to pass a vote.

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