EATON — The Preble County Board of Commissioners held its Sewer District Six (SD6) kick off meeting on Monday, Aug. 13. The well-attended meeting gave the public and commissioners an opportunity to air their grievances about the EPA-required plan, and discuss future plans.
The meeting started with a trip down memory lane, recalling the past and future of SD6.
“So everyone is aware, we did sign a contract with CDM Smith and we did have a request for qualifications before I came in. CDM Smith was selected out of that. Because of Ohio EPA’s findings we have been directed to consider the Sewer District Six,” Sanitary Engineer Bob Kohnen said.
Fred Smith with CDM Smith then took the floor to share the following project history:
•Ohio EPA Initial Sampling May 26, 2010
•Ohio EPA Follow Up Sampling Aug. 7, 2013
•MVRPC receives grant to study sewer options for Glenwood area 2014
•Ohio EPA Director’s Findings and Orders Feb. 2015
•MVRPC Study Completed June 2015
•SOQ’s received for U.S. 35 East Sanitary Sewer System Sept. 8, 2015
•Additional samples collected May 5, 2016 and May 25, 2016
•Sampling report completed June 2016
•Report update contract approved Aug. 6, 2018
Smith also provided figures from the report, to show the commissioners and the public what was found. According to the sampling results, analysis for E. Coli was performed for 23 wet weather samples and 22 dry weather samples. No flow was observed at Sample Location 10 during dry weather sampling and as a result, a sample was not collected.
In the table, highlighted cells indicate E. Coli concentrations exceeding public nuisance limits per Ohio Revised Code (ORC). There were 15 highlighted areas.
“Anything over 1,030 per hundred milliliters, basically that is a count of how man E. Coli they count in a hundred milliliters of solution. A public nuisance is created when more than 20 percent of the samples show up as having this elevated level of 1,030. Or, if there are five or fewer samples, if two or more are above that level,” Smith said.
“I’ll say the same comments I’ve said in the past, when we look at these sample results, less than 10 percent of the samples in wet weather conditions are exceeding those limits of 1,030, I would question why are we at 1,030, is that limit too low? Most houses are going to have some issues, I’m sure, systems aren’t 100 percent. If you look at the dry weather, we’re less than 20 percent of the samples and I think that is why people are here,” Commissioner Rodney Creech said.
“We do have acute cases that we could deal with locally and we said four years ago that we want to deal with them locally and we were told no. If you look at Sample 11 that is greater than 48,380, I could have told you that it would have tested that, you didn’t have to pull that. We have a trailer park there that doesn’t have septic. I could have probably told you what this report would have said.
“Again, I just want to say for the record, I wish we would have had the choice to fix this locally, but we’re past that. I think it is a bunch of crap — no pun intended — that we can’t deal with our local problems and the EPA feels like they have to come in here and tell us what to do,” Creech said.
“To tag on to that, I would actually like to see the history of this 1,030. When that number was set and what it used to be. If we got rid of site 11 there would go our problem, so I don’t know why we can’t just go and deal directly with the mobile home park and the owner and figure out how to fix that. I think we should monitor and handle the serious problems,” Commissioner Denise Robertson said.
Smith shared, once public health nuisance levels are reached it is then required to develop a public sewer district in that area.
Creech stated, he feels like instead of just fixing the affected area, they are “throwing darts” at the whole area to make this project “more affordable” and instead should be only focusing on the effected area and seeing if the project is affordable to begin with.
Smith countered, he does not believe that is true and believes they are targeting the effected areas only.
“Here is the big question, if we try to pare this down, what are the odds that the EPA will allow that?” Commissioner Chris Day asked.
“The only way to find that out is to try and pair it down, submit it to them, and see what they say,” Smith said. “They are never going to say anything off the record to me, until we submit something. That would be my first thing, we would go into GIS, delineate a more exacting area, submit it to you, submit it to them, and see if they approve it.”
“The area that is defined, that we know if the problem, is where we want to focus, because it is not right to have the rest of the area pay for this area that is the problem,” Commissioner Robertson said. “It is not going to be affordable for that area, so it is not fair to make another area pay to put this district in.”
“Again, we have not looked at affordability or a dart board area, in our opinion we are looking at the data and we are including the area that is creating the higher results throughout,” Smith said. “We are not trying to add home one to make it more affordable for everyone.”
Another grievance came to light when the public was allowed to speak, being that no representative from the Health Department was present to discuss the project and what has been deemed a public health nuisance. Many members of the public believed the Health Department should have been present, but they weren’t.
According to the Smith, next steps for SD6 will be determining what area the district will cover and having another discussion with the Preble County Commissioners.
Once that is determined, the project will follow this schedule:
•Furnish draft report to Preble County, Oct. 26.
•Furnish preliminary report to Preble County and OEPA, Nov. 30.
•Furnish final report to Preble County and OEPA, March 29, 2019.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH