(Posted Feb. 7, 2018)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Staff Writer
The city of London wants to be prepared should the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set new limits for nutrient discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants.
The EPA has already put mandates in place for the northern half of the state. They are now looking at the southern half. The agency is targeting waste water treatment plants that discharge into streams that flow into lakes or reservoirs. Their aim is to reduce the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen going into those bodies of water in an effort to prevent algae blooms.
According to Dan Leavitt, London’s wastewater superintendent, London’s plant discharges into Oak Creek which flows into the Deercreek reservoir, making the city a likely candidate for EPA mandates.
“The EPA probably will set (nutrient discharge) limits by 2020 and require plant upgrades by 2023,” Leavitt said.
The estimated cost to upgrade London’s plant to reduce phosphorous and nitrogen levels is $3.04 million.
The wastewater department has already conducted a study and developed a plan for meeting future nutrient removal requirements. The next step is to design the plant upgrade. The estimated cost for the design phase is $198,000.
“We want the design ready in case the EPA says we have to do it,” Leavitt said.
The Ohio Water Pollution Control Loan Fund is offering interest-free loans through its Nutrient Reduction Project.
“There’s only so much zero-interest money available to borrow. It’ll be gone by June, for sure,” Leavitt said.
On Feb. 1, city council voted to approve on first reading a resolution authorizing the Board of Public Utilities to apply for an Ohio Water Pollution Control loan in the amount of $198,000.
“I’ve been on council when we waited and missed out,” said council member Rex Castle, referring to zero-interest government loans. “I say we lock it in.”
If approved, the loan term would be for five years. Leavitt said his department budget could handle the cost.
If the EPA determines that London must upgrade its plant, Leavitt said the city would have to figure out how to cover the $3 million expense, whether through existing funds, grants, increased rates, or a combination thereof.