Sewage treatment loan flows to Morgan County

CHESTERHILL–Regional sewage treatment is officially headed to rural southeast Morgan County.

After three years in official planning, though many more years on the agenda for discussion, Chesterhill Village Council voted Monday to alert village residents unwilling to sign easements for the planned sewer project that without their cooperation the residents will lose out on aid awarded to the village to offset costs of installation and septic system removal.

The village secured a Water Pollution Control Loan Fund through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency this year for $3,573,000 to sewer 137 homes within the municipal limits.

“And we’re trying to keep the whole cost of the project down for our residents; that’s why we’ve looked into both building our own plant versus the regional one, and went regional,” said Councilwoman Kathy Smedley.

The project is expected to bid between November and December, with mobilization for construction in early 2020.

“There’s waste the EPA found in the storm system,” explained Councilman Ken Peters, noting the elected officials are moving forward on sewering within village limits to preempt an OEPA mandate anticipated with a requirement to mitigate the health hazard.

“We have some residents who have made use of the WPCLF to fix major issues with their septic systems, but we have others who don’t even have septic, just a pipe down the hill,” explained Councilwoman Chasity Mayle. “So we’re trying to get ahead of the mandates we’ve seen come like down in Devola and use the funds while they’re available.”

Mayor Richard Wetzel explained the loan the village has obtained from the state is a forgiveness loan, offering some relief to village coffers as time goes on after the project is completed.

“And I feel going regional has a huge impact, weighing on the EPA’s decision to fund us,” said Peters. “This is a regional project including Stockport and Pennsville.”

The village obtained approximately 83 easements through door-to-door discussions with residents explaining the project.

“But we’re also fortunate with the elevation of the village, that 95 percent of our lines will simply use gravity to move out of town and the approximately seven miles to Stockport,” Peters added.

Mayle also noted that after the first of the year, low-income qualified households will be able to apply for financial aid through the state development office to offset their personal household cost to hook up to the sewer and to remove septic from their properties.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.