EAST PALESTINE - Village council is putting words to action by looking at all available options for saving money on improvement projects.
Councilman Raymond "Sunny" Hull said this past week council should follow councilman Fran Figley's lead and stop "taking everybody's word for everything" when it comes to the projects.
Council members began doing just that as they recently went over several alternatives for correcting a problem at the wastewater treatment plant.
MS Consultants, the engineering firm hired to evaluate the plant system, has suggested the village purchase an above-ground 750,000-gallon equalization basin to correct an overflow problem affecting several homes in the West Main and Vine street areas.
The equalization basin is estimated to cost more than $1 million and no funding has been secured at this point.
Residents complained about the problem to council last spring and also contacted state officials. By August of that year the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered the village to correct the problem by June of 2016.
The EPA document stated the overflows are a result of "excessive infiltration and inflow" at the plant, and that all overflows are "illegal discharges."
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.
As required by the order, MS Consultants performed a system evaluation and submitted a capability plan in October of 2011.
Figley and Hull believe the firm's suggested basin is too costly and that the problem could be fixed another way.
"We just jump right away with the Ohio EPA (order) and want to spend two or three million dollars. I'd like to see that problem addressed ... but why do we have to spend a million dollars?" Figley said.
Hull said when he first took a seat on council in 1996 or 1997, per the recommendation of Floyd Brown and Associates, the village spent "millions of dollars" on the treatment plant, "and we haven't fixed a (darn) thing."
John Jurjavcic, wastewater treatment plant superintendent, said the Floyd Brown recommendation did alleviate some problems, but not inflow and infiltration.
Hull said the village installed a bypass line at that time.
Last year the village provided backflow devices to residents to alleviate the overflow in their homes, but the devices were supposed to be installed at the homeowner's expense.
Councilman Scott Rauch said some residents never had their devices installed, or they were installed incorrectly in some instances.
Jurjavcic said he has been called out to homes at 2:30 a.m. for overflow complaints.
"When you get a lot of rain your system gets a lot of infiltration which backs up the system ... the water has to go somewhere so it goes into the basements," he said.
MS Consultants Engineer in Training Dante Fiorino and Engineer Gary Diorio said the firm is not against other options to correct the problem, such as increasing the plant's hydraulic capacity.
"We came to the conclusion it would be cost effective to concentrate on an alternative at the treatment plant. We suggested the equalization basin, we are not pushing it," Diorio said. "There are a lot of things we can look at, but it has to be agreed it has something to do with hydraulics at the treatment plant."
Fiorino said a below-ground equalization could be used, and would be less expensive. The above-ground basin was suggested for maintenance reasons.
Fiorino, Diorio and Village Manager Gary Clark are meeting with Ohio EPA officials next Tuesday for a progress meeting in Twinsburg and alternatives will be presented.
"In order for the city to meet the EPA timeline they are going to have to make a decision," Diorio said.