Massive water line project runs from Caesar Creek Lake to boost $3.5B Honda plant

Motorists traveling on Interstate 71 can see the progress of a new water line that will run more than 20 miles north along the west side of the highway to a multi-billion dollar joint-venture electric vehicle battery plant being constructed in Fayette County by Honda and LG Energy Solutions.

Construction crews from Fillmore Construction are installing the 24-inch wide pipeline that will bring water from Caesar Creek Lake in Warren County through the city of Wilmington’s existing water intake line. The new waterline is being tied into new water pipeline near the Interstate 71/Ohio 73 exit to service the new plant, which is expected to create 2,200 new jobs and a payroll of $140 million.

As sections of water pipe are unloaded from a truck and placed along the route, one piece of heavy equipment is digging a trench to lay the pipe by workers and is followed by another piece of heavy equipment burying it.

The $3.5 billion plant will be the size of 78 football fields and will manufacture electric vehicle batteries for Honda vehicles made in North America. The overall investment is $4.4 billion for Fayette County.

The plant will be an approximately 50-minute drive east of Dayton and about 40 minutes southeast of Springfield. It’s also less than an hour’s drive from Cincinnati and Columbus. The leaders of the joint venture expect to pull workers from those communities and others. The new electric vehicle battery plant near Jeffersonville is expected to open in fall 2024 and go into full production in 2025 officials said.

Rick Schaffer, Wilmington’s public works director, said the project started in October and has been on schedule.

He said the city of Wilmington today uses about 2 million gallons of water a day from Caesar Creek Lake and has an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to pull in up to 7 million gallons of water a day. Schaffer said the city will use part of its allocation to provide up to 4.5 million gallons a day for the Honda/LG Energy Solutions plant.

“It is a big deal,” Schaffer said. “This will benefit the city greatly to supply water to Fayette County.”

Fayette County Engineer Steve Luebbe recently told the Dayton Daily News that the $30 million water line project “was more than 25% complete and that it was on time and on budget.”

“This is the biggest infrastructure project ever in Fayette County,” Luebbe said. “We’re excited to have Honda here.”

He said the line was one of six water projects that started in October and is expected to be completed by spring 2025. In addition to the water line construction, Luebbe said there are other infrastructure projects being constructed to support the new plant such as expanding a water treatment plant near the Jeffersonville exit on I-71 from 0.2 million gallons a day to 4 million gallons a day.

The county also is improving a wastewater treatment plant and adding a water tower. All told, Luebbe said there is more than $140 million in infrastructure investments being constructed.

Luebbe said there has been a lot of cooperation among local, county and state government and Honda in developing the project.

“It’s kind of neat to see everyone working towards a goal,” he said.

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