Conneaut City Council moves water treatment project forward

Charter fishing boat captain Corky Erdman (left) was given a proclamation from City Council President Debbie Newcomb and council member Thomas Kozeski. Erdman made headlines in Aug. when he and a number of fishermen on his boat rescued three men whose boat had capsized in the lake.

CONNEAUT — City Council had a brief special meeting on Tuesday night to see to a number of issues, and thank a local resident for his heroism.

Council approved a motion allowing City Manager Jim Hockaday to seek a $1.5 million loan for improvements to the city's water treatment facility.

The money would pay for improved filtration systems, as well as a new set of pumps to draw water from Lake Erie to the treatment station.

The current pumps do not have any method of altering the speed at which they bring water into the plant and require quite a bit of electricity.

The new pumps the city is looking to purchase have speed control and would be more energy efficient to the point of saving the city $5,000 to $10,000 per year on its electric bill, Hockaday said.

The improved filtration at the plant will allow water to be processed faster, Hockaday said.

The loan is expected to have a zero percent interest rate, and would be from the Water Supply Revolving Loan Account, an Ohio EPA program. The city can also seek grants to help pay for the $1.5 million project, Hockaday said.

In other business:

• Fishing boat captain Corky Erdman was given a proclamation by the Conneaut City Council, praising him for his part in rescuing three boaters whose vessel capsized in Lake Erie in August.

"Hopefully, if there's any more, I'll be around to get them too. That's what we do," Erdman said. "I appreciate this so much. Thank you," he added.

• Council also approved changes to the city's ordinances relating to the city's FEMA flood insurance program. The changes happen once every 10 to 12 years, law director Kyle Smith said at council's last regular meeting.

• In a work session after the meeting, Hockaday told council that the city is nearing an agreement with Canadian National on a lease for the city's Dredged Material Reclamation Facility.

The facility will be used to separate material dredged from Conneaut's harbor into its component parts, which could then be used for topsoil.

Currently, the material dredged out of Conneaut's harbor is dumped into Lake Erie, a process which will no longer be allowed under Ohio law, starting on July 1, according to the Ohio EPA.

Senate bill 1, passed in 2015, aimed to improve the water quality in Lake Erie. The bill includes new rules for farming in the western basin of Lake Erie, in addition to rules aiming to help control harmful algae blooms.

The city and CN have exchanged several drafts.

"There's only a couple outstanding issues that need to be put in there," Hockaday said.

One of those issues is indemnification, protecting CN from financial damages from the facility.

The city of Conneaut is not permitted to offer indemnification in unknown amounts, Hockaday said. CN and the city are working on a plan which would pass the indemnification on to whoever operates the facility for the city, Hockaday said.

"I don't think any of (the issues) are deal-breakers or things that we can't get resolved. It's just a question of getting seven attorneys together in a room and resolving it," Hockaday said.

• The paving project at Parrish Road and Route 20 is in progress. Utilities have been moved and work has been done.

The intersection of Route 20 and Parrish Road is currently equipped with a stop sign in place of a traffic light that was there before construction started.

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