EPA pleased with village sewer progress

February 13, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

Officials from the Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) met with the village of New Boston on Wednesday to receive an update on the village’s long-term sewer control plan. New Boston Mayor James Warren reported the meeting went well, and said the agencies were pleased with the village’s progress.

“It was a very productive meeting. We just discussed some of the issues, and it seems like we’re moving along real well,” Warren said.

According to the Ohio EPA, they began sending letters to the village in 2005 asking for a long-term sewer control plan that would divide the village’s current combined sewer system into two separate lines — one sewer line and one storm water line. With no response from the village, the Ohio EPA turned the matter over to the U.S. EPA in 2007. Finally in April 2012, the Ohio EPA spoke to New Boston Village Council to discuss their options and create a plan for moving forward.

Chief among their concerns is the village’s combined sewer overflows (CSO), which is what occurs when too much water and sewage flow through the sewer lines. When that happens, the excess flow will bypass the two pump stations and dump into the river. New Boston Village Administrator Steve Hamilton told the Ohio EPA in April that the village bypassed everyday for about two and a half weeks. According to the Ohio EPA, there should not be more than four CSOs a year.

The EPA is also concerned about instances of overflows happening inside people’s basements. Hamilton said sometimes this can happen when the home’s sanitary sewer line is tapped into the storm line.

“We want to get the lines fixed. We know that the infrastructure’s bad. We want to get the lines fixed and the EPA wants the lines fixed. And it’s not just the sewer lines. It’s the manholes, the catch basins, everything that goes with the sewers,” Hamilton said.

The biggest obstacle to making the changes required by the EPA, Hamilton said, is finding the funding to pay for them. He said he has applied for numerous grants, including the 2009 federal stimulus funding, but has been rejected every time.

Now the village is applying for a $150,000 grant to pay for a feasibility study inspecting the village sewer lines, and a $4 million principal forgiveness grant. One of the conditions for principal forgiveness is the village has to show a steady source of revenue, which they had been unable to do because of a 1991 agreement with the city of Portsmouth. That agreement stated that New Boston would maintain all of the sewer lines that pass through the village, and the city would maintain all of the sewer lift stations, and the village would receive no revenue from the city sewer rates.

That may no longer be a problem, after the village passed another agreement with the city of Portsmouth in November to receive a transmission fee for sewage traveling through the village from the Eden Park sewer project — once it’s completed.

“That has done nothing but open up opportunities now,” Hamilton said.

When the EPA met with the village on Wednesday, they were reportedly pleased with the village’s progress toward updating their sewer system.

“They were very content and happy with what we’re doing to move forward. It went very well,” Warren said.

Hamilton said he would bring a request to apply for grant funding before members of the New Boston Village Council during their next regular meeting, on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, rottney@civitasmedia.com.