Fayette sewer rates to increase 11.24.2010

Written by David Green.

sewer.rates.f.jpgBy DAVID GREEN

Fayette village council members voted last week to alter the approach to solving the combined sewer overflow (CSO)problem. The new direction will be more costly, but it’s hoped that down the road the village will save money.

A combined sewer overflow occurs when storm water (such as after a heavy rainfall) combines with sanitary sewage and overburdens the sewer system. When this happens, raw sewage combines with storm water and flows into Spring Creek—the small stream that passes through Fayette.

Despite completing several CSO projects in the past decade, much work remains to be done. In the past, CSO elimination has focused on installing new storm sewer lines.

Tim Harmsen of Arcadis, the engineering firm employed by the village, has said in the past that the only way to completely eliminate overflows is to install new sanitary lines.

Harmsen said if the village continued with its current Long Term Control Plan—installing storm lines—and overflows still persisted, the Ohio EPA would likely require new sanitary lines, as well.

The EPA initially requested that the village install sanitary lines, said village administrator Amy Metz, but council members in the past voted to go with storm sewer lines because of a concern with flooding problems. That, she said, treated the symptom but not the root cause.

Sanitary sewer lines cost about 20 percent more than storm lines, increasing the estimated cost of the project from $5.9 million to $7 million.

Since engineering for the project has not yet begun, Metz told council Nov. 15, a decision about which direction to take needs to be made now.

Council voted 4-0 to alter the approach to replace sanitary lines, with Paula Ferguson and Mike Maginn absent from the meeting.

“Thank you for making that very difficult decision,” mayor Ruth Marlatt said.

Either approach would lead to price increases in the cost of sewer rates. A residential sewer rate chart proposed by Arcadis is based on an average usage of 4,500 gallons a month.

In 2011, the monthly cost would increase by $9 a month, then by an additional $12 a month in 2012 and an additional $19 a month in 2013. At that point the rates would hold steady and increase only based on inflation costs.

This includes an increase in the enhancement fee—a charge used to build funds for maintenance and repair of the sewer system.

The storm sewer approach would have cost about $6.60 less per month at the 2013 levels.

Metz pointed out that the increased rates do not take into account any grants the village might obtain. Several state and federal grants have helped pay for sewer work in the past.

Additional users would also lower the cost for other residents, but councilor Tommy Molitierno said that attracting new users might be difficult with the higher rates.

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