Regional sewer project receives cash infusion from Army

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By Larry Di Giovanni, Messenger Staff Journalist


NELSONVILLE — The City of Nelsonville continues to make progress on a regional sewer project estimated at more than $16 million, with City Manager Charles Barga announcing before City Council recently that the Army Corps of Engineers has made a project contribution of $950,000.

Though Barga informed The Messenger on Monday that “a breakdown in total project funding has not been worked out yet,” the news of the Army Corps’ infusion of monetary capital is a boon to the regional sewer project, he said. The project, which involves Nelsonville partnering with Murray City and Carbon Hill as those communities contribute their own funding, is still in the planning and design stages. Most of the Army Corps’ contribution, however, will likely be used for construction, he added.

The project has fallen about six months behind timeline projections, primarily due to property acquisition issues still to be determined, Barga said. But project design is still anticipated for completion some time next year, with construction to commence in 2020 and be finished by 2021.

City Council also passed two important ordinances by emergency ordinance last week, both related to the regional sewer system. One ordinance affirmed the city’s commitment to the regional sewer plant, with other communities committed to the project being the Hocking County communities of Murray City, Carbon Hill, Candy Town, Longstreth and other rural unincorporated areas. The city’s affirmation of its commitment was necessary to continue seeking grant and loan funds for the project.

A second emergency ordinance passed last week permits the city to obtain a loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority in the amount of $1.1 million. Some of the principal on the loan would likely be forgiven once initial loan payments are made, Barga said.

The city anticipates that although nearly half of its project commitment will be paid through grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, the city will have to pay back somewhere around $7 million, Barga said — with those figures not having been worked out yet. The city’s share of the project is estimated at more than $12 million.

The city recently received about $955,000 from the Ohio EPA in low-interest and principal forgiveness funding.

City customers’ sewer bills are also anticipated to increase but the amount of higher bills to be paid has been readjusted more than once as new estimates are made.