When is a traffic snafu a positive thing for a community? When the outcome is cleaner water, a better environment and a compliance with government regulations.
The Village of New Boston is now on phase-3 of its combined sewer overflow (CSO) project, and phase-4 is just around the corner. It will start in April, 2017. A combined sewer is a sewage collection system of pipes and tunnels designed to also collect surface runoff. Combined sewers can cause serious water pollution problems during combined sewer overflow (CSO) events when wet weather flows exceed the sewage treatment plant capacity.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Times, Village Administrator Steve Hamilton said workers have accomplished a lot at a minimum cost to New Boston taxpayers. The village will have completed phases 1, 2 and 3, by the end of the year and phase-4 will be completed around July of 2017. Phase-1 is totally completed, phase-2 needs only to have a pump at the flood station repaired. Another pump has already been fixed.
“The Village will have spent $6,265, 785. 13 total,” Hamilton said. “In principleforgiveness money that we’ve had in all these phases to be completed, we have received $3.6 million, and we will be receiving in reimbursement from the (U.S.) Corps of Engineers, $1 million. So all this money that we have spent on this work – $6.5 million, the Village only had to take out a loan for $1.9 million – zero percent interest – OWDA (Ohio Water Development Authority).”
Hamilton said the Village had money left over from phase-1 and 2, and through principle-forgiveness, and through the Corps of Engineers reimbursement, phase-3 is costing the Village nothing.
Hamilton said it all starts with having a good working relationship with the EPA and the U.S. EPA, with the Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA), with OWDA and the Corps of Engineers.
“Where it all starts is right here with our Council and our mayor,” Hamilton said. “I take stuff to the mayor, then we take it to the Council, and the Council has the say – ‘yes, let’s do it.’”
Hamilton recollected to the time the Village was under sanctions to get the CSO stopped and had accumulated $600,000 in fines, which amounted to $36,000 a day. However, Hamilton says if the village can come up with a 10 year plan, the EPA will most likely change those sanctions.
“Back in 2009 when I started, we were averaging 25 bypasses a year,” Hamilton said. He said, after EPA officials came and reminded them they had an order to do away with CSOs since 2004, leading Hamilton to go to a meeting in Athens, Ohio, where he went before a board and attempted to get OWDA money, but the Village had no revenues to pay for loans or grants.
The Village ended up putting on a small sewer rate to get the money needed to be able to launch the project. And, the Village has gone from over 20 CSOs to the current 4.
“That sewer rate would have been a lot more if we would have had to pay the $6.5 million,” Hamilton said. Hamilton said, when phase-4 is completed, the Village will take a short break with phase-5 being deciding where they will move next. He just signed the Nomination Paper for principle-forgiveness for the funding of phase-6. If that funding comes in, the Village may do some smaller work one phase at a time.
“As long as we’ve got money and money to pay it back, we don’t want to go over what money we’re bringing in,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said it has taken a whole team effort to complete the work that has been done. That includes Council, the mayor, his office and the residents of the Village of New Boston.
“We want to do it on the matter of clean water too,” Hamilton said. “If you’ve got a combined overflow going to the river, the number one thing is keeping the river clean and keeping our drinking water clean.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.