Ground breaks, water to flow soon

SOUTHINGTON — There are still many households in Trumbull County that rely on cisterns and trucked-in water, but that is soon to change for hundreds of people in Braceville, Southington, West Farmington and Farmington, officials said.

A $15.4 million Blueprint Waterline Initiative project broke ground Thursday in Southington, with village and township officials, elected state legislators and an official from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency attending the ceremony. The project is projected to bring county water to those areas by next May.

“I remember, after this project first started getting going and we had the first plans drawn out, I got a phone call from a woman on Anna Court, which at the time wasn’t included in the plans. She was crying,” Gary Newbrough, Trumbull County deputy sanitary engineer, said.

“She said, ‘I can only wash one load of laundry a day.’ She wanted so badly for her home to be included in this project. I’m glad we could add Anna Court to the project. It will really make a difference in these people’s lives,” Newbrough said.

Newbrough said he worked with Trumbull County commissioners, county grants manager Julie Green, the Ohio EPA, officials in the communities, citizens and many others to bring about the project.

“The perfect storm hit and Southington got the gift,” said Sam Plott, Southington Township trustee. “It’s a good day in Southington.”

The project is funded with an Ohio EPA loan that forgives 75 percent of the cost, about $10.6 million, the most generous deal the Ohio EPA has offered, officials said. A no-interest, 30-year loan will pay for the remaining $4.8 million.

Kurt Princic, regional chief of the Ohio EPA, said the project is being touted as a prime example of a successful regionalized project, something the agency wants to see more. There are thousands of public water districts in Ohio, many that serve 100 people or less, Princic said.

When communities get together to plan their projects, more can be done to serve the public, Princic said.

The project will eliminate the need for an aging water treatment plant in West Farmington, which is “hemorrhaging and on life support,” said village Mayor Shirley McIntosh. She said she would like to see the plant, once shuttered, turned into a wastewater treatment plant.

McIntosh said the project came about “against all odds and with almost nothing to work with.”

The project means a lot to a village that is “chomping at the bit” to grow and attract business, McIntosh said.

“We need that critical infrastructure. Build it and they will come,” McIntosh said.

About two-thirds of the properties along the waterline’s route have expressed interest in tying into the new lines in addition to the “big four” customers — West Farmington, Southington Estates, Southington schools and the Ohio State Highway Patrol barracks, Newbrough said.

About 300 responded to letters from the sanitary engineer’s office expressing interest in paying $650 for the service connection and curb box and then connecting to the system within 90 days.

Another 320 expressed interest in getting the curb box to connect to at a later time, Newbrough said. There are 987 properties along the route, many vacant, Newbrough said.

Bids for the project came in about $500,000 below the engineer’s estimate, Newbrough said.

The project extends waterlines from Newton Falls into the targeted communities and adds other supportive infrastructure.

Because the project is so massive, it was broken down into six parts. The bids accepted by commissioners were:

∫ A $1.2 million proposal from Woodford Excavating LLC of Leavittsburg to make water infrastructure improvements in West Farmington. The job was estimated at $1.6 million;

∫ Caldwell Tanks Inc. of Kentucky won the bid for work on the village’s water tank with a proposal of $1.7 million. The job was estimated $1.7 million;

∫ A $696,500 bid from Engineered Fluid Inc. of Illinois was awarded for construction of a booster pump station in Braceville. The estimate was $650,000;

∫ To construct the water distribution lines in Braceville, and in part of Southington, DRS Enterprises Inc. of Garfield Heights was awarded a $3.4 million bid. The project was estimated at $3.6 million;

∫ J.S. Bova’s $2.4 million bid to build the rest of the water distribution lines in Southington was accepted. The project was estimated at $2.5 million;

∫ The water distribution lines in Farmington and part of Southington will be constructed by DRS Enterprises Inc. The company’s $2.8 million bid came in less than the $2.9 million estimate.