Legislation has local impact

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

Loan documents are being signed today. Construction trailers have already moved in.

Tomorrow, ground breaking will take place at the site of the new sewage treatment plant in Chesapeake anticipating the passage of the 2007 Water Resources Development Act.

The U.S. Senate approved the bill Monday by a vote of 81-12.

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“It is extremely good news,” said Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens. “We’re ready to go.”

In 2002, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Union-Rome wastewater treatment plant did not meet standards set by the National Pollution Discharge Environmental System and mandated improvements to the system.

The EPA found the old system was leaking excess ammonia that discharged into the Ohio River and is harmful to aquatic life.

County leaders went to

Washing-ton D.C. in 2005 to lobby to the congressional delegation and to Senator Voinovich.

Although the administration said President Bush would veto the bill, because of strong bi-partisan support, a veto override is possible.

Federal funds of $5 million have been allocated to the Union-Rome sewer project.

“It will certainly help alleviate the cost of the new sewer plant estimated at over $23 million,” Stephens said.

The new plant will also accommodate the planned RiverWalk Community in Union Township.

The growth in eastern Lawrence County has created a problem with the old system.

“We’re over capacity in the current system and the new system will double the capacity and meet the EPA standards,” he said.

The new design will be expandable, so if there is more growth it will continue to expand rather than build a whole new plant, he said.

The system serves about 5,000 customers in Union-Rome townships.

The new system is designed by Kubota, a Japanese firm, and meets EPA standards for water quality. Although the system has been used in Japan since the 1960s, it has only been introduced into the United States since 2001.

The new system uses a membrane bioreactor process and produces high quality wastewater treatment that meets the toughest environmental regulations.

Also, the new plant will be one-fifth of the size of the existing one.

Construction will begin very soon and it will take about 18 to 24 months to complete the project.