Council to vote on $26M in sewer projects

WARREN — City council is expected to vote on multiple water pollution control projects that, once completed, will significantly reduce the amount of storm water being treated at the city’s sanitary sewer plant as well as begin the first phase of an overhaul of the plant, that alone is projected to cost $21 million.

Ed Haller, director of Water Pollution Control, said the department will have to take out loans for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency mandated projects being discussed by council this week, but added they should not require the city to seek a rate increase to pay for them.

“Right now, we earn enough to pay for these projects,” Haller said. “There was a rate increase in 2010 for projects. Some of the projects we are doing now were promised at that time, but were not fulfilled.”

In addition, Haller said the department has paid off several loans, including one for the biosolids plant (Nature’s Blend), so the funds that were directed to pay off those loans will be applied to the new loans.

However, Haller added that future projects could require the city to look at possible rate increases.

The largest of the projects to be discussed this week will be the $21 million Phase I plant and pump station refurbishment, which will include the system’s main pump station and the South Leavitt pump station, an expansion of the screen building and the refurbishment of two primary settling tanks and its four clarifiers. A new septic receiving station also will be built.

Another project is the study of the inflow and infiltration of water from storm sewers into the sanitary sewers in four different Warren neighborhoods.

“We have completed a system-wide study,” Haller said. “This will target the areas that have the worst infiltration. With this study, we will be able to tell whether infiltration is due to inappropriate connections, ground water seepage, broken lines or some other cause.”

The areas being looked at include northwest side, central, southeast and northeast neighborhoods. The study is projected to cost approximately $600,000, not including the cost for construction and upgrades needed to eliminate the overflow.

The project is expected to be paid for with money from a Water Pollution Control Fund loan the city is applying for.

A third project is the Dry Weather Overflow project, which will replace sanitary sewers in areas from Market Street and North Park Avenue south on North Park Avenue to Franklin Street then west on Franklin Street to Pine Avenue.

“This should reduce the overflow of sanitary sewer water flowing into the basement of properties along David Grohl Alley,” Haller said. “The design work is expected to cost about $100,000, which will come from our budget, and the construction is projected to be $600,000. The department will seek funding through the loan fund.”

Former Councilman Greg Bartholomew owns All American Cards and Comics, 161 W. Market St. He said over a 10-year period, flooding in his shop’s basement has cost about $10,000 in repairs.

“I have insurance that took care of most of it, but it is nothing that anyone wants to go through,” Bartholomew said. “The last flood was about two years ago. I would be estactic if they would eliminate the problem.”

The construction of a Perkins Park parallel relief sewer project will have the city placing a new 36-inch sewer beginning at Market Street and Mahoning Avenue, north past the Log Cabin, following between the pathway and the Mahoning River.

“The project’s design will be $300,000 and the construction will be $1.5 million,” Haller said.

A High Street sanitary sewer replacement project will install a new section of sanitary sewers on High Street between Vine and Chestnut avenues and may require an additional small duplex grinder pump station. The design is expected to cost about $200,000 and the construction will cost about $1 million.

Council Finance Committee Chairman Eddie Colbert said the projects have been in the works for more than a year.

“We are moving forward on things that need to be done,” Colbert said. “Ed (Haller) is putting together the loans for these projects. Ultimately, it is a good thing to move forward on things the city needs to do to improve service.”