H2Ohio funding

Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson, left, speaks with Williams County Commissioners, from left, Terry Rummel and Brian Davis, and with Ohio House Rep. Jim Hoops following her announcement of $500,000 in H2Ohio funding for the Kunkle wastewater treatment project. DON KORALEWSKI/Staff

Bids for the Kunkle wastewater treatment project could be let by mid-year in 2020, now that the project is substantially funded.

On Friday afternoon, Laurie A. Stevenson, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) announced that $500,000 for the project was awarded through Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio program.

The H2Ohio fund was proposed by DeWine in March of this year to invest in targeted solutions to help ensure safe and clean water for Ohioans across the state. Through the budget bill, the General Assembly invested $172 million in the plan.

“Overall, the H2Ohio plan focuses on the following areas,” Stevenson told those gathered in the Williams County East Annex:

Reducing phosphorous on Lake Erie and elsewhere though farming and best management practices;

Creating new wetlands to reduce excessive nutrients entering lakes and rivers;

Addressing infrastructure — including failing home sewage treatment systems, especially in disadvantaged communities; and,

Preventing lead contamination in water at daycares and schools.

“In regard to sewage treatment systems, Ohio EPA utilized our project priority list from our well-established state revolving loan fund program to identify projects to help fund for the first year of the H2Ohio program,” Stevenson said. “We looked for shovel-ready projects where H2Ohio funding could go to work right away.

“Today, I am happy to announce that a project here in Williams County will receive funds as part of Gov. DeWine’s H2Ohio plan.

“We are providing Williams County with $500,000 in H2Ohio funding to use towards its project to construct a new wastewater collection and treatment system and 10,000 feet of sewer that will serve approximately 90 homes in the Kunkle area.

“There are many older home sewage treatment systems in the area that are failing, and we are happy that we’re able to supply support to this community.

The total project cost in Kunkle has been estimated to be approximately $3.5 million.

Nearly $1 million in grant funding was received from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the design of the project. The project has also secured $1.38 million in principal forgiveness funding, and no-interest loan funds — both from Ohio EPA.

“The H2Ohio funds will further support this project and make the project more affordable overall for the area,” said Stevenson. “The H2Ohio program, overall, enables Ohio EPA to help more communities like Kunkle address their water and sewer needs.”

Williams County Commissioner Brian Davis reflected on the long path that this particular project has taken. “I actually got involved with this starting in 2008, and one of our primary focuses was not only to have the system addressed, but to do it through a mechanism that wouldn’t create an excessive amount of burden to the citizens. And this goes a long way to achieving that today.”

Commissioner Terry Rummel noted the work County Engineer Todd Roth and his staff have been doing over the years that set the stage for Friday’s announcement. He noted their work, as well as the contributions of Dennis Miller of the Maumee Valley Planning Organization, contributed greatly to this being a “shovel-ready” project.

Ohio House Rep. Jim Hoops was also on hand to add a word of appreciation for the funding. “I just see a lot of good things happening here, and I look forward as we move ahead on some of the other projects too … This is a great day here for Kunkle,” he said.

The Kunkle wastewater treatment system is only half of a problem identified by OEPA in 2008. At that time, Kunkle and Alvordton’s waste had been discharged into tributaries of the Mill Creek, creating unsanitary conditions, with E. coli found in the waterway in 2009.

OEPA issued an order that mandated development of a treatment plan and construction of a treatment system for household waste from Kunkle and Alvordton.

Since the order, county commissioners have sought to attract funding for the mandated systems for both communities.

At the outset, consideration was made for separate systems as well as a unified system that would treat waste from both communities. A single system had been estimated to cost between $8 million and $10 million, whereas two separate systems were estimated to cost $3.8 and $4.2 million for Kunkle and Alvordton, respectively.

Kunkle was selected as the first project last year due the advancement of planning for the project.

Following Friday’s announcement, County Engineer Todd Roth said bids for the project could be called for by mid-year 2020.

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