Commissioners to not partner with WA on SD6

By Kelsey Kimbler -

PREBLE COUNTY — The Preble County Commissioners continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and CDM Smith to see if Sewer District Six (SD6) is affordable for the Glenwood and surrounding areas.

Preble County was put under findings and orders in 2015 by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As previously reported by The Register-Herald, on Nov. 19, 2009, Ohio EPA-Southwest District Office observed a discharge of untreated or partially treated wastewater in the Glenwood area in a storm drain discharging to a tributary of Bantas Fork. Ohio EPA took samples on May 26, 2010, and Aug. 7, 2013, at multiple sites in the Glenwood area. All but one sample tested over the limit of Escherichia Coli. The Preble County Health Department indicated there were four on-site sewage disposal complaints in Glenwood between August 2010 and July 2013.

On Jan. 27, 2015, the commissioners received a letter from the Ohio EPA.

The letter stated the Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water had found violations occurring in the unincorporated area of Glenwood. 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 would 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.

That plan was dubbed Sewer District Six (SD6), which encompasses the area between West Alexandria and Lewisburg, that lays around Quaker Trace Road and U.S. Route 35. It also includes Woodside Drive, Julia Drive, Sample Drive, Circle Lane, Quaker Trace Road, and Quinn Road.

The Preble County Commissioners have been working with the Army Corps of Engineers and CDM Smith to see if SD6 is feasible. One idea the board had was to connect to the new West Alexandria Waste Water Treatment Plant when they construct it. West Alexandria Village Council held a special meeting on Monday, April 29 to discuss the proposal.

At that time, council members indicated they would be interested in discussions and sharing numbers with the commissioners to see if the merger would be profitable for both parties.

However, in a letter dated May 20, 2019, West Alexandria Mayor Carol Lunsford informed the Preble County Board of Commissioners that council would need more time to research and discuss the proposal further.

The letter reads, “Thank you very much for reaching out to the Village of West Alexandria Mayor and Council members in order to discuss the prospect of connecting a sewer line from Glenwood to the Village of West Alexandria. While the Village of West Alexandria Council is very interested in the prospect you have presented, Council does not feel that there is ample information with which to make an educated decision for the Village at this time. Several important and necessary cost factors are outstanding. Gathering the information for such will require time and in-depth research, before being able to configure an accurate/sound set of values from which to base a decision.

“While the Village Council feels that the desire to proceed to find said figures for decision-making has been affirmed, we also recognize that the time needed to do so, may not fall within the County’s stringent timeline.

“The Village would love to be a good neighbor and be able to work with the County to find a ‘win, win’ situation, but at present feels that acting in haste would not be in the best interest of the Village of West Alexandria’s residents. Therefore, the West Alexandria Village Council wishes to offer generous thanks for the opportunity, and express that we can only make a commitment to continue to research the prospect further at this time.”

The letter continues to urge the board to reach out the the Village council if they wish to discuss the proposal further. The letter is signed by Mayor Carol Lunsford.

Without West Alexandria as an option, the Preble County Board of Commissioners have to plan on developing their own system. According to Commission President Rodney Creech, they are estimating a price of seven to eight million dollars for the total project. This is money the residents of SD6 would be responsible for.

Creech added, this could be a $60-$90 increase a month per household.

However, Preble County might receive approximately $1 million from the Army Corps of Engineers to start the project.

“Not a lot has changed. We are looking at funding sources — can it be funded,” Creech said. “If the project is affordable, it will move forward. If the project is not affordable, then it probably will not move forward. My understanding is, if it is not affordable, it goes on hold. The Attorney General is involved and has put us on a tight timeline now to get this completed.

“We are doing our due diligence, we are going to do everything we can to make sure we are making the right decisions. However, some of the decisions we want to make can’t be made, because our hands are tied. At the end of the day, it is our job to protect our constituents. Which is what I plan to do.”

He added, commissioners have various deadlines to meet and are trying to meet Ohio EPA’s request.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH