The city of Springfield has applied for a more than $21 million loan for the Erie Express sewer project, which is expected to begin construction next spring as part of a $240 million plan to cut down on raw sewage overflows into local waterways.
It will carry sewage directly to the Springfield Wastewater Treatment Plant on Dayton Avenue from a sewer near Ohio 41 and Bechtle Avenue. It will be bid out by the end of this year. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
The loan application is through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund.
The city will also spend about $1.9 million from its sewer funds to pay for the project, Finance Director Mark Beckdahl said. Recent sewer rate increases will go toward that expense.
The full cost of the project won’t be fully determined until a contractor is hired, Springfield Engineer Leo Shanayda said.
The city also recently used the EPA loan fund to finance the $52 million treatment plant improvement project that was completed last year and brought online this year.
“They’ve been the best financing alternative for us,” Beckdahl said.
The city’s Combined Sewer Overflow project, designed to cut down on raw sewage flowing into local waterways, has been mandated as part of the Clean Water Act. The complete project could cost more than $240 million over the next 25 years.
The loan will allow the city to get a better interest rate than it would if it borrowed the money on its own, Mayor Warren Copeland said.
“We’ll do it one way or the other and pay it off over time using the sewer rates,” Copeland said. “If we had to do it all right up front, there would be a major spike in sewer rates. This is an attempt to spread the cost out over time.”
The payments also won’t start until the project is complete, Beckdahl said.
Residents recently saw three, 4 percent increases in sewer rates between 2012 and 2014, with the last increase on Jan. 1, 2014, to pay for the Erie Express and treatment plant projects. The Ohio EPA and the city are currently working on an 18-month review of the city’s sewer overflow control plan.
The city is still in the process of purchasing right of way for the project. Last month, the city approved $12,000 to purchase several parcels near the Kelly Duplex Mill & Manufacturing Co., 415 Sigler St., as part of the sewer project.
Commissioners also approved a more than $68,000 contract with A-1 Tree Service to clear trees along the sewer’s path in preparation for the project.
“We’re just knocking down the big stuff,” Shanayda said. “We’re just getting the stuff out of the way so equipment could move in. We’re not removing stumps or anything of that nature.”
A more than $1.3 million pre-fabricated bridge was also installed in Snyder Park to allow for construction vehicles to enter the park as part of the sewer project.
The $52 million high-rate treatment clarifier at Springfield’s Wastewater Treatment Plant — believed to be the largest single cost ever approved by the city commission — is now operational.
The clarifier, located behind the treatment plant at 965 Dayton Ave., catches and treats overflows during storms to stop raw sewage from flooding into the Mad River.
The Wastewater Treatment Plant currently treats 40 million gallons of sewage per day. The clarifier has handled up to an additional 68 million gallons per day the peak hours of a large storm event this year, Service Director Chris Moore said.
It also provides storage capacity during rain events, decreasing the amount and improving the quality of discharge into the Mad River.
The clarifier removes the solids from the waste stream and disinfects the remaining liquid. The total solids left after the water has been filtered is an average of about 17 parts per million, which beat a goal of 30 parts per million, Moore said.
“So far, it’s doing what it should,” Moore said. “It’s a very automated system. Every time we get a rain event, we’re putting energy into making sure the program is optimized.”