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Sewer separation project continues

Environmental Protection Agency-mandated sanitary and storm sewer separation projects are happening in cities like Ironton across the country. Ironton’s sewer separation project began in 2008 and is on schedule for completion in 2023.

City officials were made aware of the issue in the late 1990s, Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said, and not doing anything about it resulted in a fine of nearly $100,000 in 2008.

“We paid $48,000 to the state EPA and $48,000 to the federal EPA,” he said. “We tried to get them to put that money back into the project, but that didn’t happen.”

Unfunded mandates from the EPA are something Blankenship says cause financial hardships.

“They mandate things,” he said, “but they don’t fund them. They give us deadlines and if we miss them, we get fined.”

The project is being done in phases and several portions are complete; the North Ironton section was finished last year. With a complete project scheduled to abide by, the South Ironton/Mastin Ave. section is currently underway.

“We have engineers continuously working on our EPA compliance schedule,” he said. “The project is divided into sections.”

Rehabilitating manholes is also being performed under the mandate, which entails fixing cement and doing other necessary upgrades to minimalize water infiltration.