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Long-awaited sewer project

Devola project hearing set for Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.

Devola residents will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns about the long-awaited sewer project during an upcoming public meeting.

During Thursday morning’s Washington County Commission meeting, Muskingum Township Trustee Gary Doan asked about updates on the court-ordered Devola sewer project. The project is intended to reduce the community’s nitrate pollution of groundwater and the Muskingum River.

“We are, at this point in time, scheduling our first public meeting,” said Commission President David White.

The meeting is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at the Broughton Community Center on Ohio 821.

He said at the meeting will be a representative from the engineering firm WSP USA of Columbus, a legal representative from (the county law firm) Bricker and Eckler, the county commissioners, County Engineer Roger Wright and County Prosecutor Nicole Coil.

“It will be an opportunity to at least spell out in general terms where this is headed,” White said. “Obviously the general plan is not complete yet, but the engineers will be better able to answer the timeline and how that’s going to proceed from there. I’d call it an expectation meeting more than anything.”

Doan said township residents ask him one major question.

“How much is it going to cost,” he said. “I said ‘I have no idea.’ Nobody can really tell you that until they actually see what’s going to happen.”

White said until the general plan is done, they don’t know how much it will cost, but the engineers may be able to give a price range.

The project will affect approximately 700 households using either drywall disposal systems or septic tanks for wastewater. The original court order required the county to provide sewerage connections to 62 homes on Lawton Road by the end of next year, with the remainder of the community to be connected by 2025.

“At least you have a tentative date if residents ask,” Doan said. “I’ve been hammered pretty good on that, questions on the project.”

White said for years they’ve said that when the project came to fruition, there would be transparency and public meetings “so this is the beginning of it.”

The first official public meeting wasn’t scheduled until this winter, but they wanted to let people know what is happening now that they are ready to contract the project and move forward.

“We fully expect to have the contract in front of us next week,” said Commissioner Ron Feathers. “The engineering contract. Phase one.”

He said the contract could be put before the commission for signatures before the public meeting, but the public meeting “would not be the nuts and bolts” of what’s going to happen.

“It’s going to be generally what the scope of the project is. Here’s what the anticipated estimate, remember, these are just estimates,” Feathers said. “And that’s what a lot of people don’t understand. The estimates that were floated around seven or eight years ago were dead-flat wrong.”

Doan asked at what point in phase one the township will get involved in the project.

County Engineer Roger Wright said in the planning phase, the county will have conversations with township trustees. Phase two is the design phase, which will take the project from 30 percent to 90 percent done.

“Phase two (the design phase), you’ll probably get involved a little more,” Wright said. “Phase three is basically finalization.”

He noted that concerns about the streets will be addressed in the planning and development phase.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

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