Wastewater addition nearing completion

Project expected to begin testing in September.

The project, federally mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency, is approximately 87 percent complete, according to Chris Moore, the city’s service director.

“Things are going very well,” Moore said.

Testing is expected to start in September, with the clarifier operating by Jan. 1, Moore said.

Construction began in September 2012 on the project, which is located behind the Wastewater Treatment Plant at 965 Dayton Ave. The equipment will control sewer overflows during storms.

Kokosing Corp. of Delaware was awarded a $50.1 million bid to construct the clarifier in August of 2012.

City commissioners approved an approximately $377,000 change order for the project at last Tuesday’s meeting, bumping the cost to approximately $50.8 million. The change order, the fourth of the project, was for 10 different items — including new grit classifiers, a piece of machinery which separates concentrated grit underflow from sewage.

A change order is when something is added or removed from the scope of a contract, which then increases or reduces the contract amount and completion date.

Moore said the current change order rate for the project is approximately 1.4 percent. The national average on similar projects is 4 percent, Moore added, and other communities budget approximately 10 percent.

“If we can finish it and stay in that ballpark, it’ll be good for everybody,” Moore said.

Another $11.3 million has been spent on both design work and other construction services.

The clarifier is being built to comply with the EPA’s Clean Water Act. The project is being funded through the stormwater utility and an increase in sewer rates — a 4 percent increase each year through this year, approved in July 2012.

The Wastewater Treatment Plant currently treats 40 million gallons of water per day. When a large storm hits, raw sewage floods into the Mad River. The clarifier will allow for the overflow to be captured and treated. When construction is complete, the city will be able to treat approximately 130 million gallons of sewage per day.

The approximately $16 million Erie Express Sewer project is expected to be bid out next summer and will begin no later than March of 2016, Moore said. The sewer will send sewage directly to the plant from a sewer near Ohio 41 and Bechtle Avenue.

The city and the Ohio EPA will begin an 18-month programmatic review in January. The review will re-evaluate the city’s Combined Sewer Overflow program based on what’s been accomplished up to this point. The overall cost could be as much as $243 million. The CSO project may be finished in approximately 2035.

“We’re going to make sure the next steps are what make sense,” Moore said.

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