Village discusses major sewer project

NEW ATHENS – The village conducted a public meeting Wednesday at the fire station to allow residents to discuss and comment on he proposed wastewater collection and treatment plant project and projected monthly sewer rates.

Jeannette Wierbicki, P.E., with the Ohio Mid Eastern Governments Association has been working with the village toward a Community Development Block Grant to assist with the construction of the wastewater system.

Doug Holtz, ADR design engineer, went over the project in terms of scope and status. He noted the project consists of two main parts, a collection system for the residences and a treatment facility.

The collection system will operate using gravity. Holtz noted the particular terrain has necessitated five pump stations to keep the water moving to the treatment facility.

This facility will be located at the south end of town. The majority of the tanks will be underground to be more visually pleasing and charcoal filters on the vents should eliminate odors.

“It works better during the winter months because it’s not getting too cold. The way you treat wastewater is a biological process,” he said, adding that the underground tanks also keep the microorganisms warm and better able to do their jobs.

Final filter disinfection will be housed in the building and utilize ultraviolet lights, eliminating chlorine residuals in the stream. Some aeration will also be applied.

When the system is installed, taps for all houses up to the right-of-way line.

Total time to complete should be one year.

“We have to install the entire collection system and test it, and install the treatment plant before anybody can tap on,” he said, adding that the septic tanks can then be abandoned.

Bids for the project were opened Oct. 10. Four bidders showed interest. The apparent low bidder was Glenn Johnston Inc. out of Pennsylvania. The initial plan calls for them to issue the contract award and notice to proceed in December. Construction should begin in January, with construction work of 15 months. After construction is complete, it is typical to allow for people to connect to the system.

“We anticipate that the project will be completely finished and everybody connected by 2015,” Wierbicki said.

Matters then turned to the proposed rates for the project. For existing customers no one will be required to pay a tap-in fee, but a monthly fee will assist in paying for the cost of the treatment plant and the cost of its operation.

Wierbicki added that so far, ADR has been working on environmental and soil testing, detailed plan design, environmental reviews, and they will provide oversight for the project during construction. These non-construction costs come to about $800,000. Meanwhile the contractor’s bid was about $4.1 million, including $90,000 for contingencies. The bid also includes five percent for unknown problems that might arise in the course of the underground project.

Should the $600,000 CDBG grant be accepted, OMEGA will be able to provide $100,000 to residents who meet certain income guidelines.

The total cost comes to $5.2 million.

In addition, the Ohio Water Development Authority has a grant available for un-sewered communities. The village is eligible for $750,000 from that program.

The remaining would be funded through Ohio EPA’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund. Currently, the village is earmarked for $2.2 million in principal forgiveness, but there is a chance this may be increased to 100 percent principal forgiveness at the end of the year. This would mean an interest-free loan that not have to be repaid.

The remainder will be a loan at zero-percent interest, with an annual debt of $85,000 yearly. The estimated yearly operating and maintenance cost are about $44,000. This means the projected monthly user fee will be about $56 monthly, but with additional grant funds that may be available through the state EPA that amount would be reduced.

Currently, a house with two people making $33,950 or less would be eligible for assistance. Application forms and information will be available at a public meeting when construction nears completion.

Judy Buckinger, environmental specialist from Ohio EPA Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance, reported their work with ADR to ensure the project is designed properly. She will issue an environmental assessment for the project.

“Many things have come together over the last couple of years to result in what we believe will be a very beneficial project,” she said, adding that the funding is the most recent development.

The first draft of the program management plan is complete. It will be reviewed at a public meeting Nov. 18.

DeFrank can be reached at