PT agreement to help pollution in Darby

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Two mobile home parks in Pleasant Township will have to connect to the Darbydale Treatment Center in order to reduce pollution in the Big Darby.

The owners of Pleasant Acres and Oak Hill Park have come to an agreement with the Franklin County Commissioners that will require the connection of approximately 380 trailers to the treatment center.

"This is an important step towards preserving the ecology of the Big Darby," said Commission President Mary Jo Kilroy. "We will now be able to connect nearly 400 homes to the Darbydale Treatment Center diverting approximately 75,000 gallons of treated and untreated wastewater from the waters of the Darby Creek every day, making the community healthier and safer."

Franklin County Sanitary Engineer Thomas Shockley explained that both mobile home communities were on a package plant. The wastewater from Pleasant Acres went to a treatment plant on State Route 665 and wastewater from Oak Hill Park went to a facility on Norton Road.

"This was discharging raw sewage into the Darby in rain events," said Shockley. "We have been trying to resolve this for about two years."

Franklin County began the Darbydale project in 2002 and opened the $7.4 million facility in 2005. Its purpose was to correct the health and environmental concerns in the Darbydale area in Pleasant Township. Shockley said in December 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ran a study in the area and found that the plants were not functioning. They had to construct a new one.

"Darbydale has been operational since June 2005," Shockley said. "It has been performing very well."

Shockley’s department will have to create facilities to connect the mobile home parks to the Darbydale facility. Each of the communities will pay the cost. The owners of the park will pay the funds back in a 20-year assessment. The owners will determine how much the residents will pay.

"One of the benefits of working with Franklin County on projects such as this is the county will identify and assist low-income qualified residents thus allowing them to stay in their homes and still benefit from central sanitary services," said Shockley.

According to Franklin County, over 80 individual homeowners have already taken advantage of this program in the Darbydale area. Under this plan, residents have the entire cost of connecting into the sewer deferred until they sell the home or transfer ownership. There is no interest added to the deferred cost, which helps to assist low-income residents.

With Pleasant Acres and Oak Hill Park tying into the Darbydale Treatment Center, commissioners said all known pollution entering tributaries leading to Big Darby Creek will be eliminated.

"We are going to do everything we can to make sure the Darby and other ecological gems in Franklin County are conserved," said Commissioner Marilyn Brown. "I want to thank all of the parties who worked in a collaborative fashion to come to this agreement removing two more pockets of pollution from the Darby Watershed. Their hard work allows for Franklin County families to stay in their homes."

Shockley said life forms in the Darby are already starting to reappear and the oxygen levels are back up. This is from a reduction in pollution.

"Once these parks are connected to the treatment facility the Big Darby will be full of life again," Shockley remarked.

Construction should begin sometime between January and April of 2008. The work will take approximately three to four months to complete. Shockley said he hopes to have both mobile home communities operational by September of next year.

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