By Tim Cox
ROCKFORD -- Village officials are preparing to undertake a large-scale improvement of the town's water system estimated to cost $1.5 million.
Village officials are hoping to secure grants and low-interest loans to help pay for the improvements, but residents likely will end up paying for some of the work through higher rates.
Village Administrator Jeff Long plans to discuss the proposed project with village council's infrastructure committee later this week or sometime next week. Long already has started a water rate study to examine how current rates stack up against other towns and how much might need to be raised to pay for improvements.
The proposed project includes expansion of the water plant, replacement of some aging water mains and the introduction of residential water meters. Only commercial water customers have meters now; residential customers pay a flat monthly rate.
The proposal was mentioned at this week's Rockford Village Council meeting but was not discussed in depth because Long was absent. The plant's treatment capacity needs to be increased to accommodate growing demand for water, Long told The Daily Standard on Wednesday. The plant usually produces about 190,000 gallons daily but has often in recent months been near its limit of 250,000 gallons.
"We are definitely going to need more capacity in the coming years," Long said. "It's time for an overall upgrade."
The plant was built in 1969.
In addition to the plant, some parts of the distribution system also need work. A number of water mains have been replaced as part of other projects in recent years, but quite a few of them still need to be addressed, Long said.
Installing residential water meters would help the water department fully recoup its costs to treat water. With no metering in place now, the town loses money when water demand spikes upward. Sometimes during dry periods, the spike can be as much as 70,000 gallons daily, mostly due to people watering lawns and other summertime outdoor water use.
"That hurts. With meters, we would charge for water actually used by each residence," Long said.
Village officials are hoping to get financial assistance from any combination of Community Development Block Grant, Ohio Public Works Commission Issue II, Ohio EPA loans and Ohio Water Development Authority loans.