The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 8, 2013

Sewer rates up in GOTL

Increase to help in construction of new plant

Star Beacon

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE — Village residents will see a 3 percent increase in sewer rates, administrator Jim Hockaday said, to cover the first step in the design and construction of a new wastewater treatment plant.

Hockaday said the increase is “small and manageable.”

“This represents the first rate increase since 2011,” he said.

The average monthly residential sewer bill will go up by about 78 cents per month, Hockaday said.

The sewer rate increase comes with the announcement of the new proposed wastewater treatment plant, now in the design phase.

Hockaday said the village has been “overdue” in providing permits and reports to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for many years. The village did not provide an inflow and infiltration report in 2007, a mercury variance application in 2009 or a facility management plan.

“What we have is a wastewater treatment plant that is 40 years old and not performing to modern standards,” Hockaday said. “Our wastewater treatment plant was built before the existence of the OEPA.”

Hockaday said years of neglect and deferred maintenance and improvements to the plant have caught up with the village.

“We are doing this now because it wasn’t done a decade ago,” he said. “This is not a new problem by any means.”

Hockaday has been working on grant funding to build the new plant, which could cost as much as $7.5 million.

The village secured a $82,000 planning loan from OEPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance. The planning loan included the work to complete inflow and infiltration report as well as the mercury variance application.

“Both reports were completed and submitted to the OEPA in 2012,” he said.

But the facility management plan asked a significant question — what would it take to bring the wastewater facility up to date?

“Our plan explored several alternatives — including the consolidation of our facility with neighboring communities,” Hockaday said. “The plan weighed economic and environmental feasibility, and in the end, the recommendation in consultation with the OEPA is to construct a new facility capable of meeting more stringent effluent requirements and add additional capacity at this facility.”

The village has filed for financial assistance through the OEPA and the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund , he said, and has received $469,000 for the design phase of the project and permit fees.

Hockaday said $352,000 was granted to the village for the design phase.

The 3 percent sewer rate increase will cover the repayment of $73,800 — or 25 percent of the total design cost.