Overflow issue still under scrutiny

EAST PALESTINE – The village is undergoing yet another study in its effort to meet an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency mandate.

The village has until July 2016 to correct an overflow problem in the West Main and Vine street areas that is caused by a backup at the wastewater treatment plant during heavy rainfall.

The $22,330 water study will determine the severity of the problem and size of equipment needed to correct it, MS Consultants Engineer Dante Fiorino said.

The engineering firm has suggested an above-ground equalization basin that would cost around $1 per gallon. Since February of 2012 the engineers have estimated the basin would need to have a capacity between one-million to 750,000 gallons.

Fiorino said this week the firm is leaning toward the smaller tank.

“A million-gallon tank would seem pretty high. The high end is 750,000 gallons for this community,” he said.

There is also a chance, he said, the tank could be even smaller than that, but they won’t know until the study is conducted.

Councilman Fran Figley adamantly opposed the new study and believes it to be unnecessary.

Since the 2011 EPA mandate the village has already conducted one study and evaluated the plant. The agency previously attributed overflows in the residential area to “excessive infiltration and inflow” at the plant.

Inflow happens when storm water enters the sanitary sewer system at direct points of connection and infiltration occurs when groundwater enters the system through leaks or cracks in system pipes.

“We know it’s a problem at the plant. We know Vine Street is a problem. What it is all leading to is this un-needed study we are going to do now for $20,000,” Figley said.

Fiorino said the problem occurs there because it is the lowest point of the village and the former study was mainly to determine what was causing the problem. Now, the task is to see how to correct the problem.

“The point of it was different last time. Last time there was belief in the village-mainly, Gary Clark thought-and it makes sense, there was a lot of flow going into those manholes so what we did was set up flow meters at each of those manholes up the creek monitoring the flow and hopefully we would see some discrepancy … at that time we didn’t know the plant was the problem,” he said.

The new study would likely be conducted in the spring and consist of flow meters in seven locations upstream from the wastewater plant. MS Consultants would monitor the flows for two months, he said.

He added, “The thing we don’t know is what is the size of the problem. We have no accurate numbers as far as how much water we are not treating when we are getting an overflow.”

The equalization basin would only be used in the event of an overflow, and there is a chance the village could correct the problem another way, he said.

An option is to add a pump at the plant that would push more water through.

Wastewater Superintendent John Jurjavcic said the plant’s existing four-inch pump had a hard time handling the extra capacity during the heavy rains.

The pump can do 300-gallons a minute and was used for 8 hours straight, with a maximum of 12 hours at one point, he said.

Council approved the study and Village Manager Pete Monteleone said he will begin seeking grant funding to comply with the agency’s order.