Initial Steubenville sewer system price tag ­– $10M

STEUBENVILLE — For about $10 million, the city could take care of a list of priority projects from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to repair some of its sewer system.

To repair everything on a long-term capital improvement plan could take between $35 million and $45 million.

The city will need to find a way to finance the first six projects.

The list, which was reported in detail to a City Council utilities committee meeting Tuesday evening by Rich Atoulikian and Meredith J. Welle of HDR Engineering, with estimated costs includes:

• Adjustments to stanch a major overflow with combined sanitary-stormwater sewer at the foot of University Boulevard during storms, $600,000.

• Equipment to refurbish the aeration system at the sewage treatment plant, $3.5 million.

• Screen replacement at the sewage entrance to the sewage treatment plant, $2.9 million.

• Adjustments to weirs (small concrete curb structures that act as dams) in the combined sanitary-stormwater sewers to control flows, $400,000.

• Maintenance and improvements to the sewer system, $200,000.

• Removal of identified places where stormwater can flow into the sewer system, costs to be determined.

Council members tried to push for a schedule of the projects, but City Manager Jim Mavromatis said the Ohio EPA knows it can’t set deadlines on the city for the work until the city completes a rate study, considers a sewage rate increase and then finds ways to finance the work.

The HDR presentation included a map listing the 15 combined sewer overflow points. HDR noted the University Boulevard overflow makes up 34 percent, or 59.6 million gallons, of the total 174.5 million gallons of raw sewage and rainwater discharged from all 15 overruns directly to the Ohio River from January 2015 through December 2017.

The combined sewer overflow points discharge water directly to the river when heavy rains cause water to accumulate in the overflow points above where the flow would go toward the sewage plant. The water then overflows the small concrete weirs and moves into the pipes to the river. That system was acceptable when the city sewer system was built, officials said.

Water and Wastewater Superintendent Chuck Murphy said the city plant is designed for an average daily flow of 6 million gallons, and the average day actually is about 3.5 million gallons.

Murphy said up to about 22 million gallons a day, thanks to modifications to the plant, can undergo full primary and secondary treatment before release to the river. From 22 million gallons a day to 42 million gallons, the city can handle primary treatment only.

Eliminating or controlling the combined sewage overflows would help the city provide more treatment to more sewage.

Murphy said all the items on a long-term improvement list could take up to $45 million. He gave a few examples, including the need to replace an above-ground sanitary sewer that was placed in the creekbed between Glendwell Road and Opal Boulevard in the 1950s when the subdivision was developed. The line would need to be relocated and follow modern standards at an unknown cost. He said the line represents a place where water may be flowing into the system, contributing to the running of the Bryden Road lift station in storms, which contributes to overflowing a manhole along Sinclair Avenue near Lincoln Avenue.

He said the aeration system at the sewage plant is a critical repair. If it fails before design and installation of repairs can be finished, which could take two years or so, the city could face fines of $25,000 a day.

During a regular session, council heard the second reading of an ordinance to work on improving drainage at Efts Lane and Aberdeen Road. Sixth Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna said a public meeting is set for 6 p.m. May 30 in council chambers for residents to discuss the city’s options on Efts Lane. Council is to vote on the improvement ordinance Tuesday.

Villamagna asked council to permit Law Director Costa Mastros to work on a donation acceptance agreement for a building adjacent to North End Field. He said property owner Frank Colalella wants to donate the building and the city would have it appraised and tear it down.

If the building is worth more than it costs to tear down, he wants the agreement to require the city to deposit the difference in his estate if the city ever would sell the property. Mastros noted the city has no plans to sell the property and may never sell it. He said if the value is less than the cost to demolish the structure, there will be nothing to put into the estate.

Villamagna introduced legislation to demolish 329 Highland Ave., 331 Highland Ave. and Rear 1136 Wellesley Ave.

City resident Larry Gerber offered to refurbish and paint the horse watering trough on old Market Street, visible from Washington Street hill.

“It’s sitting there and it’s a piece of Steubenville history,” Gerber said after the meeting. “It was built in 1910. It’s a shame for it to just crumble to the ground. It’s not in bad shape.”

Gerber will be working with city officials to be sure the work he does meets standards. The trough is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Mayor Jerry Barilla.

Council accepted a resolution to join the Ohio Department of Transportation’s cooperative purchasing agreement for next winter’s road salt supply, and a resolution honoring Lowe’s for its donations and providing workers to help paint the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

Mavromatis said he would provide all council members with a list of vacant properties the city owns. Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn asked for the list to aid council in answering citizen complaints about high weeds. Mavromatis and Mastros noted the city cannot enter or mow private lots without going through a notification process.

(Giannamore may be reached at