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Planning continues on Devola sewer project

Work on phase 2 of the Devola Sanitary Sewer Improvement project continues despite the COVID-19 shutdown.

Naiel Hussein, WSP USA senior engineering manager, said they are continuing the design work of the project and that preliminary plans were submitted to Washington County Engineer Roger Wright for review. The plans were sent to the Ohio EPA after the review.

“We’re moving forward and have deadlines with the OEPA. We can’t miss them to have any credibility with the OEPA or the court,” Hussein said.

The final design submission deadline is Dec. 15.

The project has been in various stages of planning for at least seven years. The Ohio EPA ordered the project done in 2012 due to high levels of nitrates in well water. The commissioners at the time voted not to follow the order, which led to the Ohio EPA suing the county. The original court order required the county to provide sewerage connections to homes on Lawton Road by the end of 2020, with the remainder of the community to be connected by 2025.

It will affect everyone from Ohio 60 to Masonic Park Road, to Magnum Magnetics to the Devola Volunteer Fire Department, along Devol’s Dam Road down to River Road, per the court order from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. It does not include River Road or homes beyond the fire house.

The general plan for the project was to be submitted to the OEPA by Nov. 26, but the OEPA wanted more information. A 30 percent plan was to be submitted, which would plan out the first 30 percent of the project, said Wright. He added the deadline was hit for the new plan.

“We’re doing everything we can to hit their deadlines,” he added.

After the initial meeting about the project in October, another public meeting was held in January where Devola residents could ask questions of the engineering team. The next scheduled public meeting was to be held April 14, but due to COVID-19, the meeting was postponed.

“We’re planning to have another public meeting as soon as we are able,” Hussein said. “We’re even thinking of having it outdoors as an alternative.”

He said they are also working on alternatives to having a public meeting, such as adding interactive features to the project’s website.

While engineers at WSP are working on the design phase, the county commissioners are starting to look for funding.

“We’re getting to the phase where we’re trying to get funding for the project, such as applications for grants,” said Commissioner Kevin Ritter. “We’re looking at all our options for funding.”

The last public decision about the project was in early March, when the commission chose to connect the 563 Devola homes to a pressurized sewer system rather than the gravity system.

The pressure system’s estimated total construction cost would be $12.5 million with operating and maintenance costs of $105,000 per year.

Ritter said a low- to moderate-income survey is scheduled for later this summer, although with the COVID-19 restrictions, he’s not sure what form the survey will take.

“Likely it will be mailed,” he said. “If they aren’t answered, we may follow up with a second mailing.”

He said three attempts have to be made to get results, so the third attempt may be by phone.

“We have to get a certain percentage of the homeowners to respond,” he said.

Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton was contacted and a collection point for the surveys may be set up at Putnam Elementary School, he said.

“That’s one of the things we’re talking about now,” Ritter said.

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

At a glance:

• Devola Sewer Project deadlines are being met.

• Design work is being completed for a December deadline.

• The next public meeting will be held as soon as possible.

• Low- to moderate-income survey will be done this summer.

Source: Times research.

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