PORTSMOUTH – Portsmouth City Council has moved one step closer to building a new water treatment plant.
The current water treatment plant is the oldest active plant in the State of Ohio. According to Strand Engineering, it is years past its useful life and will need expensive repairs in the near future.
During Monday night’s council meeting, the council moved along a second reading of an ordinance that would make a $158,000 expenditure from the waterworks fund to cover expenses and take ownership of 1.99 acres of property behind the current water treatment plant near Wal-Mart in New Boston. The acreage formerly belonged to the New Boston Coke Plant.
When the debate opened, 3rd Ward Councilman Andy Cole and 6th Ward Councilman Dennis Packard expressed their desire to pursue brownfield grant funding for the project.
“We are the poster child for brownfield cleanup money,” said Packard. The State regularly awards brownfield cleanup money to counties and municipalities to expand, redevelop, and reuse land which may contain hazardous pollutants or contaminants.
“I see is getting no less than the $35,000 in back taxes for the property…and it is likely we would be reimbursed for any cleanup,” said Packard.
But according to City Solicitor John Haas, the property would need to be remediated prior to the September start time for the new plant. Also, it would simply act as a material storage area during construction of the new water plant.
“This endeavor we’ve undertaken for the last 5-7 years is to obtain this property to build a water treatment facility on. Since we started, there have been many developments. One of those is that the plants for the water treatment plant do not include this piece of property for the facility itself…we even went through a long process with the EPA to escape any liability for remaining pollutants. This money is to remediate those…but we just need this property as a lay down yard for construction. We need somewhere close by where the materials can be stored until it is built.”
“We want to start our water treatment plant in September. We have to make sure we are able to use the property by then. My concern is that if any grant processes take a long time we may not be able to start on time.”
In the end, the council agreed to move the legislation along and look into possible grants before the third and final reading. As of now, it looks like the city’s new plant is on schedule to begin construction in September of 2022.
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