PREBLE COUNTY — Sewer District Six was established in 2015 to combat ongoing sewer issues in the unincorporated area of Glenwood.
Lately, the district has been a main topic for the county, as the Preble County Board of Commissioners decides the most taxpayer-friendly way to move forward.
On Jan. 27, 2015, commissioners received a letter from the Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water. There were violations found in Glenwood, the letter stated, and discharges of raw or partially treated sewage from failing septic systems in the area were causing a public health nuisance.
The letter, from Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler, proposed administrative orders which will require the county to comply with Ohio law by creating a general plan to sewer Glenwood, which is located in Twin and Lanier Townships between Eaton and West Alexandria, and drains to the tributaries of Bantas Fork.
From 2009-2013, samples were taken and found over the limit of Escherichia Coli. There have been several onsite sewage disposal complaints in Glenwood as well. This meant the county had to submit a general plan for sewage improvements to Ohio EPA.
In October of 2014, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission hired IBI Group Inc. through a grant program with the Ohio EPA to produce a feasibility study for creating sewers for five unsewered areas within their five-county planning area. Preble County was able to include the Glenwood area in this process. In November 2014, a steering committee comprised of Ohio EPA officials, county officials, Lanier Township Trustees, Twin Township Trustees and business leaders, began working with the MVRPC and IBI group to discuss options available to solve this issue.
When the feasibility study was released, it was met with concerns from residents in the Stoneridge subdivision. Many were confused on why their subdivision was included, when they felt Glenwood was the main contributor to the issue.
In the board’s efforts to find a solution to the water contamination issue in the Glenwood area, the commissioners established Sewer District Six. This district covers homes from Woodside Drive, along U.S. 35, to Stover Road. Sample Drive, Circle Lane, Julia Drive, Vanessa and Rebecca and parts of Quaker Trace are included.
At the time, commissioners said the establishment of the district will not make every home in the area become part of the district, but simply establishes an area of service for the district and prepares for possible service to the homes in the future.
It was found that implementation of a sewer plan could cost Glenwood homeowners up to $6 million, something the commissioners have been trying to avoid. Surveys were sent out to retrieve wage data, so that the affordability of the system could be calculated.
According to Commissioner Rodney Creech, there are many pieces still needed to determine affordability.
One way they have sought to add to the affordability of the system was to ask West Alexandria to partner with them. The village is working on a new wastewater plant and the commissioners saw the merit in establishing one large plant, instead of two.
“Working together would allow for future growth, less expense for us both and while saving the county money long term the Village of West Alexandria would have some additional revenue,” he said. “We are currently working with a consultant and will be getting an update report to determine the area that would be directly affected by this new sewer district. Our goal is then to determine the kind of system, overall cost and if it will be affordable to our residents.
“Since the beginning I have recognized that we have a problem and that it needs to be fixed. My hopes at the beginning were that we could fix the problem locally without the EPA. But since the beginning we have been told what we will do with little to no input and the EPA will not let us work on correcting the problem. I have great concern for our residents and the affordability of this project. The talks of making sewer district six as large as possible to make if affordable upsets me!”
“The EPA wants us to fix the problem but hasn’t even determined the source of the issue so we may be forced to put in a new system and it still may not fix the problem,” Creech said. “This is very upsetting to me to be directed and forced to do something that I don’t think is right. But the EPA has all of the power and is not held accountable to anyone. I hope that we can come up with a good plan that is good for everyone involved.”
Creech added, there will be many meetings in the future to discuss the details of the new report and to develop the best plan for county residents in and around the Glenwood area.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH