Friday, October 08, 1999

Sewers ordered for Green Twp. area

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) has ordered Hamilton County to install sewers in a Green Township subdivision declared a public health hazard because of raw sewage flowing behind homes and into Taylor Creek.

        More than 50 houses along two roads in the Valley Ridge subdivision will be affected.

        The OEPA has given the county six months to get the permits, a year to start construction and two years for the neighborhood to meet clean-water standards.

        Tim Ingram, the county health commissioner, declared the area a public health hazard in February 1998. Mr. Ingram asked that the state get involved, which led to testing for fecal coliform bacteria.

        “It's about time,” Mr. Ingram said of the order.

        “This situation has been going on since at least 1996. It's too bad it had to go this far, but it's in the long-term best interest of the community.”

        Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) officials say they have not installed sewers in the area because a majority of residents there didn't approve of the idea.

        MSD requires a 50-percent plus one vote before starting such projects.

        Now it has no choice.

        Helen Colony is one of the people who voted against the sewers. Looking down the tree-lined Valley Ridge Road, she doesn't see the problem.

        Mrs. Colony says only a few of the homes along Valley Ridge Road and Jonkard Lane are causing the problems. County health officials say there are at least 17 septic tanks malfunctioning in the area.

        “The majority of these people have lived here 30 or 40 years and survived just fine,” Mrs. Colony said. “Many are in retirement, and they will face a tough time with this.”

        The cost to each homeowner is undetermined and will likely vary, depending on where the sewer line is installed — the street or in back yards. But the cost is sure to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

        Hamilton County Administrator David Krings said his office is ready to comply.

        “We will have absolutely no problem in meeting with OEPA and implementing their orders,” Mr. Krings said. “We have the same goals as them. We take environmental protection very seriously.”

        Complaints about odors in the area started rolling into the county health department in 1997. A series of water quality tests, along with public meetings, were conducted but no majority vote in favor of the sewer lines could be won.

        State law dictates that fecal coliform bacteria counts cannot exceed 5,000 colonies per 100 milliliters. Tests in the Valley Ridge drainage swales show more than 360,000 colonies per 100 milliliters.

        Mr. Ingram has called some areas “a fountain of sewage.”

        Jeff Hurdley, an attorney for the OEPA, has requested a meeting with county officials to be sure they understand the timetable and to see whether the county agrees the sewer is necessary.

        “At this point, we don't know where the county stands on this,” Mr. Hurdley said. “That's why we're very anxious to sit down and talk with them.”


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