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Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Sewer plan meeting set

$1.5M project proposed for Carthagena area

By William Kincaid
CELINA - Mercer County officials are seeking funding sources that would help pay the upfront costs for a proposed new sewer system in the Grand Lake watershed.
However, county community development director Jared Ebbing stressed that plans for the Carthagena sanitary sewer project are in their infancy and contingent upon the acquisition of numerous funding sources to make it affordable for property owners. If pursued, the project would affect 77 equivalent dwelling units - including a cluster of homes, the St. Charles Senior Living Community and a golf course. The property owners would be assessed over 30 years.
Officials will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at St. Charles Senior Living Community to review details of the proposal with property owners.
"We're just now to the point of asking to have a public meeting where the residents can be informed," Ebbing said, adding he's been working with Access Engineering Solutions of Celina for the last 10 months on preliminary background work.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in recent years has pushed communities to create central sewage systems to replace failing household systems that subsequently pollute area waterways such as Grand Lake.
The Marion Community is considered one of the county's most populous areas lacking a central sewer, OEPA has noted in the past. A Marion phase 2 study found that Carthagena would be a cost-effective place to install the next sewer system, Ebbing said.
"The EPA is going to continuously look at any populated area within that distressed watershed where septic could be an issue," Ebbing told county commissioners on Thursday morning. "Our goal is to always keep the EPA at bay so that we can study and figure out what area is the most cost effective so that they're not sky-high rates."
A sanitary sewer system would consist of a collection system and a main lift station to transport the wastewater to the Montezuma Club Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, Ebbing said.
Ebbing estimated the project would cost $1.5 million and said he will seek out a combination of funding mechanisms - an interest-free, 30-year Ohio Public Works Commission loan, a 30-year, variable rate OEPA water pollution control loan currently set at 1.39 percent and a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant program's Residential Public Infrastructure Grant.
If all the funding sources are secured, officials could pursue the project at the lowest cost to benefit Carthagena-area residents, Ebbing said.
"If the EPA would come in and the funding sources aren't available and they force issues, I can guarantee you this: The cost would be higher," Ebbing told commissioners.
By securing and assuming long-term debt, the county could undertake the project with affected property owners billed quarterly over 30 years. A septic-tank replacement, on the other hand, would be more costly upfront to property owners, Ebbing said.
"So your actual upfront cost is less," Ebbing said about a county-led creation of a sanitary sewer system rather than property owners' replacing aging septic systems.
Commissioners on Thursday morning authorized applying for an OPWC loan.
Commissioners in September 2016 approved using a $224,250 Water Pollution Control loan to pay for engineering services, contingency costs and a prior Ohio Water Development Authority study to consider the feasibility of a sewage system involving St. Rose, Cassella and Carthagena.
Access Engineering Solutions was awarded a $145,000 contract for design services.
Officials used $72,000 from the loan to pay for the earlier OWDA study in St. Rose, Cassella and Carthagena. Commissioners in 2010 agreed to pay $71,600 to Fanning/Howey Associates of Celina to complete the study, including determining where sewer lines might be placed, cost feasibility and which treatment plant to use. Treatment facilities are located in Chickasaw and at Club Island.
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