Group files appeal of Devola sewer decision

At a glance:

¯ Attorney for Devola Against Sewering Homes filed motion to appeal.

¯ Permit to install was granted March 10.

¯ Ruling has not been made on motion to intervene in court order.

¯ Sewer project will affect some 560 homes in Devola.

Source: Times research.

A notice of appeal was filed Wednesday with the Environmental Review Appeals Commission in answer to the permit to install granted for the Devola Sewer Project.

Greg DeGulis, attorney for the group Devola Against Sewering Homes, said it is an administrative appeal of the director’s decision to grant the permit to install the sewer in Devola.

DASH is made of opponents of the Devola Sewer Project, which will affect about 560 households using either drywell disposal systems or septic tanks for wastewater.

“It’s a tribunal of three people that will hear the appeal,” DeGulis said of the appeals commission. “If we lose at ERAC, the permit will stand and the county will be able to move forward.”

The notice states the permit to install was submitted by the engineering firm WSP USA on Nov. 25 to the Ohio EPA.

The PTI was in response to a 2012 Ohio EPA-Washington County Commissioners Director’s Findings and Orders which required the county to adopt a general plan to implement sewage improvements in Devola because of nitrates in the drinking water provided by the Putnam Community Water Authority.

“Since 2014, there has been no nitrate drinking water exceedance of the 10 mg/L standard in Devola because of PCWA improvements to its plant,” the notice said. “On repeated occasions, the Washington County Board of Health confirmed that there are no ‘unsanitary conditions’ and there is no public health nuisance related to the drinking water in Devola.”

One of the arguments DeGulis made in the notice is the PTI was unlawfully issued because there was no board of health resolution declaring the need for a sewer system in Devola under Ohio Revised Code 6117.51, which is a statutory prerequisite.

This isn’t the only legal action DeGulis has made on DASH’s behalf.

He filed a motion to intervene last year in the 2012 court decision, which was denied by the trial court, DeGulis said.

He appealed with the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth Appellate District, Washington County, and appeared in court in November to present oral arguments challenging the OEPA’s orders.

A ruling has yet to be filed, he said.

“There’s a decent chance it will be this month, as it’s been six months since the oral arguments,” DeGulis remarked.

The Devola sewer issue has come up in several recent meetings of the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

“We deal with things all the time where we can obviously sympathize with people, or what their situation is, what their problem is or something that’s going on within the county, but we can’t do anything about it,” Commissioner Charlie Schilling said. “We have to follow guidelines and we’re under a court order.”

Commissioner Jamie Booth said we can’t forget we are a democracy and they have the right to appeal the court’s decisions.

“What I don’t want to happen is we have another seven- or 10-year fight,” he said. “All this has done is hurt the citizens of Washington County, in my opinion.”

He said after he took office in January that the Devola issue needs to be resolved, one way or another.

“What we’re trying to do right now, we have to look for funding. If we don’t find funding, the whole estimated $15 million will fall on all of the sewer customers through the county,” Booth said.

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


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