(Posted May 26, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Sanitary sewer service is coming to Summerford. Construction is scheduled to start in August and take approximately a year to complete.
Currently, Summerford residents have private septic systems and private water wells. Madison County officials have determined residents are at risk of their septic systems contaminating their water wells or their neighbors’ water wells.
“Summerford has a high density of housing in a small geographic area. Most of the 96 homes are on a quarter or a third of an acre which puts everyone’s septic system close to their drinking water wells,” said Rob Slane, county administrator. “What could happen is that when a septic system fails and leaches into the ground, it could leach into water wells on site.”
This past winter, a couple of private water wells in the area tested positive for E. coli, a bacteria that can pose health risks, he noted.
To fix the situation, the county plans to expand the sanitary sewer district that serves Lake Choctaw to include Summerford. The project will include running sewer lines and installing grinder pumps and basins at all of the houses in Summerford.
The estimated cost of the project is $3,949,422. Because Summerford is a low- to moderate-income community, the county sought government funding to cover as much of the project cost as possible to eliminate any financial burden on residents for the sewer improvements.
The county was able to secure $3,790,000 in grants and other funding and will use county funds to cover the remaining $159,422. This means no cost to residents for the sewer improvements.
The funding includes:
• Army Corps of Engineers grant–$925,000;
• Ohio Public Works Commission grant–$400,000;
• Residential Public Infrastructure grant through the Community Development Block Grant program–$750,000;
• Ohio Water Development Authority grant–$500,000;
• American Rescue Plan Act grant–$450,000; and
• Federal appropriations–$765,000.
“We’ve been working on this for about three years,” Slane said. “Even though it wasn’t an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) mandate, we took the initiative to get this started and seek funding.”
County officials knew funding was available. They also expected a mandate to come down at some time. They decided to tackle the project now, rather than risk having fewer or no funding options once the mandate came, Slane said.
“When working with the EPA on this, they were pretty happy we had taken the initiative to get this going,” Slane said.
Construction will start late this summer. The timeline from there will depend on weather and the ease of securing materials and labor.
The grinder pumps are already on order. According to Slane, installation of the pumps will be less intrusive to property owners than installing a gravity system which typically requires major excavation and road repairs.
Residents will keep their private water wells.
Once the sewer system is up and running, residents will pay a flat fee of $55.80 per month for sewer service. This is approximately the same amount Lake Choctaw customers pay for their service.
All Summerford residents must sign on for the new county sewer service with two exceptions: those who own agricultural property and have a septic system in good working order that has been inspected by public health officials; and those whose homes are located more than 250 feet away from their septic collection system.
In addition to addressing health and safety concerns, the sewer project will support future economic growth in the area, including residential and commercial development, Slane said.
With the Summerford project in the works, the county will turn its attention next to Lafayette.
“They are in a similar situation with quite a few houses on small parcels and no sewer service,” Slane said. “The process will start the same way we went with Summerford. We will start looking for the dollars and make sure it’s financially feasible. It will take a couple of years at least.”