Canal Winchester and Lithopolis settle sewer dispute

A dispute between Canal Winchester and Lithopolis over a six-year-old wastewater service agreement is finally over after flowing through the environmental court system.

As a result of the June 6, 2008 dismissal by Franklin County Environmental Division Judge Harlan Hale, Canal Winchester reinstated its letter of support and Lithopolis withdrew the complaint it filed with Ohio EPA (OEPA) regarding Canal Winchester.

Except in an emergency situation, no sewer, wastewater, or other effluent from Lithopolis can be discharged into the Ashbrook Village lift station other than what is generated by Wagnall’s Run and Canal Winchester is responsible for upgrading the Ashbrook station. Lithopolis Engineer Floyd Browne will inspect and review Lithopolis’ entire sewer system and all future flow determinations for permits to install letters of approval between the villages will be calculated as originally tabulated.

 

In a jointly-released statement, Canal Winchester Mayor Mike Ebert said, "Reaching a settlement with Lithopolis has been one of my priorities since I took office in January. I’m happy that we’ve been able to put our differences behind us and look forward to working with Lithopolis in the future.

Lithopolis Mayor Eric Sandine was likewise upbeat in saying, "I would like to thank Mayor Ebert for his assistance in reaching this settlement. Working together benefits both communities and putting this dispute behind us is a step in the right direction."

Background

In October 2007, Lithopolis served Canal Winchester with a lawsuit compelling Canal Winchester to honor its obligation for service under a 2002 agreement and an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency plan.

Under the 2002 Wastewater Service Agreement, Lithopolis contracted for a daily capacity of 250,000 gallons with Canal Winchester, but reported using less than 80,000 per day. In 2004, Lithopolis attempted to renegotiate the agreement, but talks allegedly broke down.

 

In April 2005, Bill Griffith and a group of interested landowners annexed nearly 200 acres at the corner of Washington Street/State Route 256 and Lithopolis Road into Lithopolis for the Bishop’s Run development, but not before attempting to work out an agreement with Canal Winchester. In a 2007 statement, Lithopolis alleged Canal Winchester attempted to block the Griffith annexation by making allegations that Lithopolis could not service the properties. However, the Franklin County Commissioners supported the annexation.

In order to secure an EPA permit for the development, Lithopolis needed a letter of support from Canal Winchester because it was the service providing entity. Lithopolis claimed Canal Winchester refused to provide the letter, stating that Lithopolis did not have sufficient capacity to service the area under the current agreement.

But because Lithopolis was using less than 80,000 per day of a contracted capacity of 250,000 gallons per day the OEPA agreed Lithopolis had capacity and, after a meeting between Lithopolis and Canal Winchester, Canal Winchester provided the Letter of Support on June 7, 2007.

In August 2007, Canal Winchester informed the OEPA they were suspending their support. A month later, all parties agreed if Lithopolis contracted for a certified operator, performed an assessment of its collection system, and paid for half the cost of a study of the Ashbrook lift station, Canal Winchester would reinstate its letter of support.

However, further conflict over language resulted in the letter of support not being issued.

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