08-27-03: Mercer County
considers building own water plant
| By SEAN RICE
A well dug in eastern Jefferson Township almost two years ago
has suitable water pressure and quality to be used for a new county
water treatment plant, Mercer County Commissioner Jerry Laffin
Commissioners signed an option to purchase with Jefferson Township
landowner Jonny Dicke for 13 acres of land along Ohio 29, land
they say is a prime location for a treatment plant to serve eastern
Jefferson Township residents. Those residents currently pay to
get Celina city water.
The cost of the land is $10,000 per acre for a total of $132,850,
and the option remains available for two years.
Commissioners also signed a $3,000 agreement with Dicke to dig
another well on the site. The first was dug Sept. 26, 2001. The
$6,000 total paid to Dicke for the right to dig the two wells
will be deducted from the sale price if the option is executed.
Laffin said the wells will be capped if not put to use.
The eight-inch well already in the ground pumped 185 gallons-per-minute,
Commissioner Tom Gagel said, equivalent to 266,000 gallons a day.
Laffin said a new treatment plant would need to produce 300,000
gallons a day for the 700 plus residents in the eastern half of
Jefferson Township. The second well, to be dug by R.L. Quinter
Well Drilling, Burkettsville, will be 10 inches in diameter.
“If we would decide to go with a plant ... both wells could
be used,” Laffin said.
Celina engineering firm Fanning/Howey Associates was hired to
study the prospect of a central water system in the township and
to oversee the test well exploration. Fanning/-Howey also is to
coordinate the drilling of the second well, perform an environmental
review of the site, develop applications for funding a new system,
coordinate a hydro-geological study and organize any public hearings
or income surveys that are needed.
Laffin has said there may be a possibility residents could be
charged the same amount they are charged now by Celina Utilities,
and generate enough funds to repair corroding underground pipes.
Commissioners are investigating the possibility of a new treatment
plant as Celina is looking toward a new well treatment system
or major plant renovations. Both actions are in reaction to Celina’s
repeated violations for high trihalomethane (THM) levels in the
drinking water during the last 10 years. THMs are suspected of
causing bladder cancer and other intestinal diseases during a
lifetime of exposure.
THM readings taken from eastern points in Jefferson Township are
consistently higher than in Celina and often double state limits,
city records of THM readings show.
It is not entirely clear how Celina’s water system would
be affected if the East Jefferson district had its own water plant.
Celina Safety-Service Director Mike Sovinski said there definitely
would be some negative financial impact, but said it is nearly
impossible to accurately gauge the hit without knowing other factors.
The fate of the existing pipes and whether the city would still
be needed to maintain them is one factor that would figure into
the mix, he said.
Water customers outside the city account for about 20 percent
of Celina’s customer base, Sovinski said. While any financial
hit to the city would be mostly offset by no longer serving that
area, residents there do pay an additional 10 percent surcharge
“At first glance, we would lose some overall
revenue but we would also be operating a smaller system,”
Sovinski said. “There would be a negative impact but to
what extent, I don’t know.”
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