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Sewer extension sparks concerns

By Staff | Aug 10, 2011

Vic Wilford of S&S Engineering explains the scope of the Hanford City sewer extension project to residents at the public hearing Monday evening.

A small group of Hanford City property owners expressed their concerns with a proposed sewer/water extension during a public hearing held in Sistersville on Monday evening. Those concerns were addressed by Vic Wilford, a representative from the engineering firm handling the project for the city.

Wilford explained the scope of the project to the council and the residents in attendance. “Raw sewage is going into the Ohio River from 40-50 homes,” he explained. “This is in violation of the Clean Water Act,”

The CWA establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.

Wilford pointed out that several residents in Hanford City area have installed septic tanks on their property. Once the extension project is complete, these residents will be required to tie into the city’s sewer system.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has extended a loan in the amount of $1.1 million to cover the cost of the extension. “The DEP to longer uses the term ‘grant’ in reference to funds,” Wilford said. Instead, the funding will come in the form of a loan to be paid back over the course of 40 years. “Every year, they will wipe off a portion of the loan. It’s called loan forgiveness.”

At a meeting held last year, the residents of Hanford City asked the City of Sistersville to sponsor the project, however, the funding for the project will not come at the expense the city or the residents of Sistersville. “It’s a self-sustaining system,” Wilford commented. “The citizens of Hanford City will pay back the remaining $216,000.”

He added, “The city will not be reaping the benefits of this venture, other than the goodwill of sponsoring the project.”

Wilford said the project is in the design phase and outlined the estimated timeline for the construction and installation of the system. “We hope to go out for bid by February 2012, with an expected construction phase to begin in June 2012.” He expects the project to be completed by early 2013.

The lengthy timeline allows the DEP adequate time to approve all aspects of the project.

“There may be land acquisitions and right of ways procured,” Wilford said, noting that a 25-foot-by-25-foot parcel of land is needed for the pump station.

After the design phase is completed, Wilford said engineers will contact the property owners affected by the project.

When the floor was opened to the public, several questions and concerns were brought to light.

One resident asked, “Will existing storm drains be affected by the construction of the system?”

Wilford answered, “The storm drains will be left intact.”

Another resident asked, “Will you be re-routing all sewers?”

“Yes,” Wilford said.

Because existing gas lines and out buildings were found in the alley in Hanford City, engineers must install the sewer system in the street in front of the houses. “Property owners will be responsible for the cost of re-routing the sewer lines on their property to tie into the new system,” Wilford said. To this end, Sistersville Mayor Dave Fox added that a connection fee of $150 will be imposed to all residents in Hanford City tying into the new system.

Some residents commented the re-location of the lines to the front of their homes might create several problems for the engineers and contractors. “I foresee issues with this plan,” one resident commented.

The initial plan called for lines to be installed along the river, however, Wilford said a recently discovered hole will prevent this from happening. “The hole is deep,” he said. “It’s probably 35-feet deep.” He noted that filling the hole would increase the cost of the project.

By health department mandate, all residents with access to a city sewer system are required to connect. “Residents with septic tanks will be required to abandon their tanks once the sewer lines are installed.”

To ease their minds, however, Wilford told the residents gathered that contractors would “most likely” ask where they would like to have their lines installed for convenience. Still, Wilford noted some installations may be costly due the the location of the pipes and the distance to the new taps.

Mayor Fox suggested that the property owners get together when approaching the contractors. “You may get a deal if everyone goes with the same contractor.”

The smell of the pump station was another concern addressed at the meeting. Wilford said, “There shouldn’t be a smell.” According to Wilford, the system will utilize a submersible pump located in a “wet well.” The proposed plan has the station located in the lower portion of the land parcel, however, this may be subject to changes during the design phase.