Christiansburg council members are considering plans to install a $4.5 million wastewater treatment system after a recent study found high levels of bacteria in West Honey Fork Creek that was traced back to the village.
If installed, it would mean about 220 users would have to pay sewer fees for the first time.
The Champaign County village is working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on a proposal to install a filter drip wastewater collection and treatment system to replace its current 0n-site septic systems.
The new system would require installing a storage tank in every user’s yard, which would then deliver the material to a site on Addison New Carlisle Road about a half-mile south of the village, said Charles Lyons III, a village council member.
The village is hosting an open house from 3 to 5 and from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday to present information and allow residents to sign easements allowing the system to be installed. In addition, the Ohio EPA will host a meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 9 to accept public comments on wastewater limits.
Both events will take place at the Christiansburg Fire Company, 110 W. First St.
The village is lining up a series of grants and low-interest loans to pay for the roughly $4.5 million project.
Residents don’t currently pay sewage fees, Lyons said, but will pay about $65 a month once the system is installed. The fees will go to operating and maintaining the system.
“It’s just not a lot of users to spread that cost,” Lyons said.
While many residents might not be happy about the new fees, most understand the village has no choice but to install the system.
“By the same token, we shouldn’t be dumping raw sewage into the creek either,” Lyons said.
Council members have traveled as far as Tennessee and Alabama to inspect how similar systems have worked elsewhere. Lyons was only aware of one other similar system in Ohio.
“We’ve tried to do our due diligence to make sure it will work,” Lyons said.
Once installed, the new collection and treatment system would capture and treat the village’s sewage, creating better conditions in the West Fork Honey Creek, where the treated wastewater would be discharged. The draft permit would set limits for how clean the wastewater needs to be after it is treated.
Setting the limits for wastewater quality will allow village officials to determine what design is needed for the system, said Heather Lauer, a spokeswoman for the Ohio EPA.
In 2012, the EPA conducted a study of the larger Middle Great Miami River watershed, including West Fork Honey Creek in Champaign County. The study found that while the larger watershed was attaining exceptional warm water habitat status, improperly treated wastewater from Christiansburg was leaving high levels of bacteria in West Honey Fork Creek.
Faulty septic systems in the village are largely to blame for the problem, Lauer said.
The EPA will work with the village to offer-low interest loans and try to keep costs down, but ultimately Lauer said the village must resolve the issue.
Written testimony will also be accepted after the EPA hearing until the close of business on April 16. Written comments should be sent to Ohio EPA-DSW, Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio, 43216.
“We know that with what they have going right now, there are very high levels of bacteria,” Lauer said. “They have to do something.”