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|01-28-03: Celina must pay water quality fine
|By SEAN RICE
The Daily Standard
It appears the city of Celina will be forced to pay a $20,000 fine to
the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for the city's repeated water quality violations.
The Ohio EPA issued Celina a final "findings and orders"
document, which outlines the city's violations, sets the fine and a timetable the city
must follow to correct its water problem.
City council members Monday passed an ordinance accepting the findings
and orders, as required. Now the city has entered a legally-binding agreement to get the
problem fixed within a time frame. The violation
The "findings" spell out what violations occurred, and the
"orders" direct the corrective action. The city's main violation is having
illegal levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) detected numerous times during several years in
the city's drinking water. THMs are believed to cause stomach and intestinal cancers.
The orders give periods of time that engineering studies must be
completed, and timef rames for construction and completion of a new water plant using well
or lake water.
While the orders do not give a concrete completion date, combining the
possible time frames for engineering studies shows a complete fix needs to be in operation
in less than three years.
Safety-Service Director Mike Sovinski, who has mainly been dealing with
the EPA for the city, on Monday said he still hopes to negotiate the fine lower and the
time frames larger.
Rather than paying the EPA, the city may be able to negotiate a deal
and use the $20,000 on energy conservation projects at the water and wastewater plants,
Sovinski was told. Future water plans
Also, the city is moving forward with a "plan b" of sorts
that may result in the city bringing its THM content below legal levels without building a
new multi-million dollar plant.
While a process engineering study is set to be conducted, as required
by the EPA, the city also is paying for an ozone treatment study that may result in
increasing the current ozone generator's abilities. Sovinski has said the ozone generator
installed in 1994 is only working at 40 percent of its ability.
Council members passed an ordinance authorizing Sovinski to give Ozone
Water Systems., Inc. of Phoenix up to $15,000 to conduct a study.
If the ozone study shows the generator can be tweaked, and adjustments
to the ozone can cause the THM levels to drop below state limits, the findings and orders
will be dropped and a new plant won't have to be built, Sovinski believes.
But, the city must follow the EPA's time line, so concurrent studies
will have to be conducted.
In other business, council members passed the first reading of the 2003
appropriations Monday night, with a total for all funds equaling $33,882,914, slightly
lower than last year's appropriation of $34,689,254.
In the general fund, which includes police, fire, streets, parks, the
mayor's budget, community development and all expenses other than utilities, $5,416,539
was appropriated. The 2003 general fund is slightly higher than 2002's figure of
Sovinski said the general fund amount may decrease, as the personnel
and finance committee meets at 5:10 p.m. tonight to give the general fund a final
examination. Committee members have met numerous times to review the hundreds of line
items in the budget.
An accompanying graph shows that spending levels have been equal to or
higher than income levels for the last several years. Council members examined the general
fund closely during budget hearings, removing large projects and purchases to pull
spending levels below the income level. In the city's water and wastewater funds, recent
rate increases barely have caused the departments to break even and more improvements are
needed at the plants. Members have indicated that rates will again need to be increased in
In other business, council members:
- Approved the sale of four turbine pumps from the city's abandoned
power plant, nicknamed "the blue goose." The city of Shelby has a great need for
these pumps because it still operates a coal-fired power plant, and Celina hasn't used
them since 1973. Council member Bob Nuding asked that the $8,000 from the pumps be
earmarked to help finance the blue goose's demolition.
- Passed legislation stating that a West Bank Road boardwalk project
can move forward, and Community Development Director Sue Canary can apply for grants to
supplement the cost.
Canary will apply for a Clean Ohio Trails grant from Ohio Department of
Natural Resources (ODNR) and for a federal Recreational Trails grant, administered by
ODNR. The Clean Ohio Trails program has offered grants up to $500,000 with 25 percent in
local matching funds and Recreation Trails requires a 20 percent match and offers as much
as $100,000. Canary hopes to use a $250,000 allocation in the state budget earmarked for a
West Bank boardwalk.
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P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH