DATE: NOVEMBER 19, 2018
FROM: CITY OF ST. CLAIRSVILLE
SUBJECT: CITY LEADERS TO DISCUSS WATER AND SEWER NEEDS
St. Clairsville, OH: Mayor Terry Pugh, the City’s Director of Public Services and Safety, and Council Members are exploring options for dealing with major financial challenges, public health and safety, and infrastructure improvement needs in the City’s water and wastewater systems.
The water treatment plant and distribution system both need significant investments. This plant was built in 1928 and last upgraded in 1984. Regulatory requirements have changed significantly since then and the bulk of the equipment in the plant is nearing the end of its expected useful life. Much of the distribution system — which consists of the pipes, valves and fire hydrants throughout the community — has never been replaced. The old lines, many of them undersized, have been in continual service for more than 90 years. The Ohio EPA has notified the City that these issues must be addressed and could be mandated in the near future.
The City’s wastewater treatment plant underwent $2 million in renovations in 2016 but still requires additional upgrades. The collection system that transports residential and commercial waste is subject to infiltration of groundwater, which stresses the treatment ability. This then impacts operational costs and puts us at further risk in trying to meet Ohio EPA standards.
“The total price tag for all the needed work in the two systems isn’t completely nailed down,” said Mayor Terry Pugh. “What we do know is it will take millions of dollars to meet regulatory requirements and to support the dynamic vision I have for St. Clairsville’s residents and businesses.”
Currently, funding possibilities include some combination of grants, loans, bonds and local self-funding the renovations which would likely involve significant rate increases and potentially impact the City’s ability to proactively respond to the opportunities associated with the natural gas industry. The City also may consider selling the systems to a state-regulated utility that specializes in revitalizing and operating water and wastewater systems. One such regulated utility within Ohio has expressed interest in partnering with the City in a recent letter of interest.
“All of the options are on the table at this point but, one thing is for sure, we can’t just keep ignoring our water and wastewater problems,” said Pugh. “Evaluating this letter of interest and other options are just the start of a process that will involve public meetings where we will lay out the issues, outline possible solutions and hear from the public.” The process could include collaboration with other governmental entities, so we can grow as a City and county.
Mayor Pugh encourages City utility customers to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas with the City administration and Council members. The Mayor also stressed that “the City’s goal is to be fiscally responsible and keep rates at a minimum for all of our customers, while ensuring the highest level of public safety and water quality possible.”