(Posted Nov. 3, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The village of South Charleston is on the receiving end of grant money that will positively impact water quality not only locally but also in communities along the Little Miami River down to Cincinnati.
At a press conference on Nov. 2 at South Charleston town hall, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the village is one of 28 communities around the state to receive funding in a second round of new grants aimed at improving water infrastructure.
“As a small community, we sometimes find it difficult to compete with the larger cities when it comes to funding,” said Trecia Waring, village administrator. “Today, we are going to celebrate a little bit. We have a win for the little guy.”
Through the new Ohio BUILDS water infrastructure grant program, South Charleston will receive $641,800 to make improvements at its wastewater treatment plant, primarily to address phosphorous control. This funding will be combined with $300,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission.
Steve Canter, an engineer with Environmental Engineering, the firm that oversees the village’s water and wastewater plants, said the project will allow South Charleston to remain compliant with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency permit requirements.
He explained that Gilroy Ditch in South Charleston is the headwaters to the Little Miami River. As such, South Charleston is home to the first wastewater treatment plant that discharges into that river system.
“So, I view this as not only benefitting the community of South Charleston but the five counties where the Little Miami River traverses. That makes up about 1.5 million people that are going to benefit from our little project here,” Canter said.
The project will maximize the plant’s ability to remove phosphorous biologically. A chemical treatment process will serve as backup. Additionally, some of the funds will be used to address stormwater intrusion into the village’s sanitary sewer system.
DeWine explained that when he took office, he and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted put an emphasis on clean water. They started with H2Ohio, a 10-year plan to reduce algal blooms on Lake Erie and other bodies of water statewide.
With the receipt of federal dollars related to COVID-19 pandemic relief, DeWine’s office sought and received permission to launch another clean water initiative. The Ohio BUILDS water infrastructure program sets aside $250 million to focus on clean water, wastewater systems, and water issues related to lead pipes.
DeWine described the federal funding as one-time money that the state is spending on one-time expenses–capital improvements to water infrastructure systems around the state.
While some of the grants are going to larger cities, he said, “The vast majority of the grants are going to smaller communities.”
Sam Stucky, president of South Charleston’s village commission, said he is very thankful for the grant. He said the project has been sitting on the village’s table for a long time, stuck for lack of funding. Now, it can finally move forward.
“This is big for a village of roughly 1,700 people,” he said.
DeWine’s office rolled out the first round Ohio BUILDS water infrastructure funding the week of Oct. 25, awarding $94 million in grants for 54 projects in 60 counties. The second round encompasses a total of $44 million in grants for 28 projects in 28 counties. Additional rounds are planned in the coming weeks.