The Village of New Boston issued a public notice Wednesday afternoon after discovering that sanitary sewer (sewage as opposed to storm water) lines are running directly into the Ohio River without first being treated, causing a likely contamination.
“The Village has identified sanitary sewer laterals that connect to a sewer on Stanton Avenue, which in turn is connected to our West Avenue outfall sewer that discharges to the Ohio River,” Village Administrator Steve Hamilton stated. “Citizens are cautioned to avoid contact with the Ohio River for several miles downstream of the Village.”
The sewage dumping into the river without treatment comes from 29 buildings including commercial, retail, apartment and industrial properties. Hamilton assured that though it is hazardous waste water, there is no chemical sewage following in the lines.
Drinking water is not expected to be affected. The drinking water intake for the Portsmouth water treatment plant is upstream from the overflow and thus not impacted. There is not another drinking water intake for nearly 55 miles downstream and is located in Maysville, Kentucky. Hamilton explained that by the time the water reaches Maysville, it should be so diluted that it is no longer an issue.
New Boston operates a sewer system that includes sanitary lines as well as combined sewers that collect both sanitary and storm water. Sewage is collected and pumped to the City of Portsmouth, where it is treated ant then discharged. Over the past several year, New Boston has been undertaking a large Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated sewer upgrade that involves separating storm and sanitary lines, allowing storm water to flow back into the rivers and keeping sanitary sewage out of waterways. A combined sewer system allows for a limited number of overflows into waterways annually and expected during times of excessive rain filling the sewers. The sanitary outfall currently discharging into the Ohio River is constant, flowing into the river even during dry weather. The Village recently completed phase five of the project, which included dye testing for the project to be completed in phase six. It was during this testing that the discharge was discovered.
“Like with any construction, the more you dig, the more comes up,” Hamilton stated.
Hamilton added that much of the sewer lines were installed in the 1930s and 40s; thus, the sewage may have been discharging into the river for that length of time.
“The Village is already working on a short-term and long-term solution to this problem,” Hamilton assured. “The short-term solution will take several weeks to implement. The long-term correction will be included in the Village’s Phase 6 CSO (combined sewer overflow) improvements project scheduled for construction in 2018.
Phase six will include the installation of a new sanitary line from Center to West Ave., which will completely eliminate the sanitary discharge. Hamilton added that though he is allowing 30 days for a short-term solution, he hopes to have it completed within two weeks. The short-term fix has already been submitted for a cost estimate. Hamilton is expecting the project to cost between $20,000-$30,000, which will be covered through funding provided by agencies such as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA).
Hamilton assured that he has already made contact to the Federal and Ohio EPA, Scioto County Health Department and all other entities of relevance.
Hamilton urged citizens not to panic or be alarmed and is willing to discuss the issue in full detail. Any questions or concerns can be addressed by calling Hamilton’s office at (740) 456-4106.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.