By Tim Cox
Plans are in place for Eldora Speedway to build a new sewer system that will tie into the relatively new Burkettsville-New Weston sewer system.
Track owner and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is under orders from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to close the existing septic system and tie into a central sewer system by the time the next racing season begins in the spring. Fanning/Howey Associates, Ce-lina, is working with track officials on the project.
Mercer and Darke counties commissioners expressed no opposition to the plan during a joint meeting Thursday with track manager Larry Kemp and Brett Frood, Stewart's financial manager who helps manage the racecar driver's 12 companies.
The plan calls for a collections system with six sewer taps to be built at the track along with a lift station to pump sewage away from the site. The flow then would go into a new force main that would run about a mile along state Route 118 to where it would tie into the existing Burkettsville-New Weston system at state Route 705.
That rural sewer system is owned by the towns but operated under contract by the Mercer County sewer department. The sewage is pumped to St. Henry where it is treated at that town's plant. The Burkettsville-New Weston system has enough capacity through an agreement with St. Henry to accept the additional waste.
"There couldn't be a better marriage," said Fanning/Howey engineer Jared Ebbing, noting that the track's peak sewer usage would be during the off-peak time for the residents hooked into the system. That means St. Henry should not struggle too much with peaking issues, he said.
It it wasn't for the new sewer system along the Mercer-Darke counties border, Ebbing said he isn't sure how Eldora officials would have dealt with their dilemma. No other nearby towns, including Rossburg, have central sewer systems and an on-site treatment facility acceptable to the EPA would not have been economically viable for the track.
The track plays host to as many as 15,000 race fans but only holds about 26 events annually.
Track maintenance workers likely will run the lift station at Eldora, with the new force main along state Route 118 handled by Darke County officials.
Even though the new section of sewer would be privately financed, Eldora still would pay debt service for the benefit of tapping into the Burkettsville-New Weston system. Its annual sewage bills would run about $3,200 for treatment and debt retirement, and the company would pay about $7,800 in tap-in fees.
Those figures are based on the track producing about six times as much sewage as a typical residence over a year.
Attorneys for all the entities involved were assigned to examine a number of issues before the project is finalized.