Sunday, January 30, 2000

Public gets say on new sewer plant

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ALEXANDRIA — It is a given that southern Campbell County needs and will eventually have a new wastewater treatment plant; where and when are questions that will take some time to answer.

        Staff and board members of Sanitation District No.1 said they want the process of finding a location and building the plant to be as public as possible, with residents of the county's southern area involved in each phase.

        The problems with the county's current treatment facility on Ky. 10 are obvious: a capacity of fewer than 1 million gallons a day and antiquated lines that are cracked and leaking.

        “Development is at a standstill in the Alexandria area and further south in the county because of the condition of the Alexandria treatment plant,” said Jeff Eger, the sanitation district's executive director.

        The district assumed control of the plant last August in a deal with the city of Alexandria that ended a fight between the city and the state's Environmental Protection Agency over pollution and un safe conditions.

        “If you look at the history of the system, you see there were (sewer) lines that were installed incorrectly years ago,” said Campbell County Commissioner Dave Otto. “The (sanitation) district has pictures of broken lines that have creek stone in them, which means sewage is being carried from the cracks into creeks.

        “The people in southern Campbell County have to realize that there are health problems related to leaking sewer lines, and we have to change that.”

        In a graphic example of how outdated the treatment plant is, Mr. Eger recalled a recent heavy rainfall that overwhelmed storm water runoff controls and sent millions of gallons of water through the sewer lines.

        “The plant can handle 750,000 gallons daily, and during that period of heavy rain about 4.1 million gallons of water was carried through the pipes,” he explained. “Obviously, all of it wasn't getting into the treatment plant but bypassed it and was carried away. Fortunately, because of the amount of water, the untreated waste was greatly diluted.”

        But Mr. Otto said he was concerned “about the rains that are not that heavy but still are more than the capacity of the plant. That's when waste is not diluted and ends up in creeks and in fields.”

        Campbell County Judge-executive Steve Pendery said he appreciates the sanitation district's desire to work closely with the fiscal court in planning for the new treatment plant.

        “We have a lot of concern about septic systems in the southern end of the county,” he said. “The type of soil there is not conducive to proper operation of septic tanks. There are a lot of pollution concerns.”

        Mr. Eger said immediate action is needed, but construction of a new treatment facility is about 10 years away. Mr. Otto and Mr. Pendery indicated that they would help searchfor new funding to speed up construction..

        “Do we try to upgrade the present plant?” Mr. Eger asked. “Should we build some retention facilities to hold runoff until it can be treated? These are very temporary measures that don't really solve the problem.”

        The sanitation district plans to form a committee of residents from all over the county to help develop a plan for a new plant. District officials hope to avoid the citizen complaints last year about how the sanitation district selected a site for a new treatment facility in Boone County, complaints that led to heated public hearings and lawsuits to block the use of farmland near Belleview.

        Mr. Eger said, “We will make a concerted effort to educate the public, to open everything up and let everyone know exactly what we are doing.”

        A public meeting will be held sometime in March.


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