By DAVID GREEN
Fayette village administrator Steve Blue isn't using the phrase "the end is in sight," but he will go so far as to mention "light at the end of the tunnel."
Fayette's sewer separation project is moving along quite smoothly, Blue said, but it's a big project and seems to be taking forever—especially with all the dust blowing through town. Even that situation has improved, he said, with recent rain and watering efforts by the construction company.
"We're getting there," Blue said. "Most of the pain is over, but there's still some left."
Nearly all of the main sewer lines have been laid, Blue said last week, leaving only a few shorter areas yet to tackle. That includes the Ohio Street water line that wasn't initially included in the project.
"We aren't unique in having to do a sewer separation project," Blue said. Several other communities in the region are tackling the work through pressure from the U.S. EPA. Morenci's sewer separation project was completed in the early 1990s due to combined sewer overflows in which raw sewage occasionally poured into Bean Creek.
The word "combined" refers to a situation in which septic sewage flows through the same pipes as storm water. Following heavy precipitation events, the water flow can breach control structures and send raw sewage into creeks. When Fayette's project is completed, the septic sewer lines will lead to the treatment lagoons and the storm lines will empty into Spring Creek.
The village's sewage should no longer have a negative impact on Lake Erie, Blue said, and there will be a positive impact at the lagoons, where the water level often reached capacity before a discharge could be scheduled.
The next step in the project involves "tap crews" to connect residential sewer lines to the new septic lines. Some of that work was handled when the line was laid, Blue said, such as along Main Street. The work can get more complicated at some locations where one sewer line comes from the front of the house and another travels out the back. In that case, the two lines will be combined into one.
The clean-up phase includes leveling the ground, repairing broken sidewalk, planting grass and addressing any other repair needs.
Finally—the step residents are waiting to see—the damaged streets will be repaired.
"The pavers won't be staying and doing it all at once," Blue said, but he doesn't yet have any scheduling details. He's fairly certain U.S. 20 will be handled first as the crew faces a deadline from the state to put the road back in order.
Although residents aren't likely to agree, Blue wouldn't mind seeing the paving delayed because rain and traffic will aid in settling the disturbed soil. A vibrating compactor wasn't used in many locations for fear of breaking the village's old water lines. If settling isn't complete, the new pavement will be damaged and the trenches from the sewer work will be obvious.
Some areas, such as Walnut and Lawrence streets, did not have much of a base to begin with, Blue said, and some rebuilding of the street surface will be needed.
Blue expects bids to be sought soon for paving the remaining village streets—those not affected by the sewer project—and for the street widening project at the corner by the TRW plant.
Earlier in the project, the two main sewer interceptor lines—one from the north side of the village and one from the south—were lined to provide a better flow, to shut off leaks, and to prevent infiltration into the line. Manhole areas are nearly all lined, as well.
Blue said the main line between the lift station (where sewage is pumped) and the lagoons appears to be in need of cleaning. He believes this condition is largely due to the project, particularly to the lining work where debris was pushed into the main.
"We think cleaning needs to be added to the project," Blue said, "but we're not yet certain. Cleaning will put less strain on the pumps."
It's likely that two 90° turns in the force main will be changed and additional access areas for cleaning will be installed.
The contractor's early estimate pegged early August as the completion date for the project, but that was changed to mid-August at a progress meeting in early June. The next meeting is scheduled in early July and Blue said he wouldn't be surprised if late August was now projected. Overall, he thinks the project is progressing well.
"We're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel," Blue concluded.