Delay is proposed on sewer

WARREN – At $12 million, the project to rid Warren Township’s Meadowbrook neighborhood of pollution by replacing broken down septic systems with sanitary sewer lines is among the most expensive of the mandated upgrades in Trumbull County.

Adding to financial strains is the fact that the area east of the Mahoning River in Leavittsburg is home to low-to-moderate income residents.

Combined, it’s a double whammy that may push the project to the end of the list.

”It’s a big project, the income level of the people in that area lends itself to a project that really has to have a pretty good grant to offset, so people can afford it,” said Rex Fee, executive director of the Trumbull County Sanitary Engineer’s Office.

The office would like to see the project, one of a dozen to remedy failing or malfunctioning septic systems in a consent decree with the state, pushed back five years because of the cost and inability for residents there to pay for it.

It is scheduled to be completed by 2015.

”The delay isn’t because we’re not doing our jobs,” Fee said. ”The delay is, we want to make sure when we go and do this, that it is as affordable as possible to the benefited residents. If they cannot afford it and become delinquent on payments, the county sewer districts absorb it, and my funds aren’t set up to retire debt on these projects.”

Fee says he’s optimistic the request will be granted, given the office’s performance so far on ticking off projects in the order mandated by the state of Ohio.

Multiple projects already have been completed in the installation program and work on others is progressing.

Projects completed or under construction now in consent decree areas, including projects that precede the 2007 decree that calls for the 12 projects, exceed $40 million and 1,912 new connections, according to the sanitary engineer’s office.

Under way now is another costly project a $10.6 million project that is part two of an effort to install sewers in portions of Kinsman. It’s high price tag is why it took years and a hefty amount of wrangling with U.S. Department of Agriculture over a more than $8 million loan / grant package, to make it affordable for residents.

Another, part four of a five-part project to run sewer lines along state Route 193 in Liberty and Vienna, should be put out to bid in the next couple of months, Fee said. The $2.3 million project will continue the line north from near Squaw Creek Country Club to Warren Sharon Road and include a leg east to near Mathews High School. It will have 62 new connections.

Also in the works is the second of a three-part project in Newton Township. Scott Street phase two, estimated to cost about $2.3 million, is being designed and should be ready for bid later this year, said Gary Newbrough, project planner with the sanitary engineer’s office. The phase has 128 new service connections.

”We are designing the project in house; we are currently working on that,” Newbrough said. ”That should save a significant amount of money to residents.”

All the projects in the 2007 order must be finished by 2020.

The consent decree simply obligates Trumbull County to install the lines. It also addresses the much larger issue of ridding parts of the county of health concerns created by human waste and sewage not being properly treated, but instead, released to the environment.

Other, non-consent decree sewer line projects done by the office since 2007 account for $11 million in construction and 643 new sewer connections.