Greene County water projects hit by uncertainty of costs, timing

As the Greene County commission seeks bids on several of its Greene Forward project to upgrade the county’s water and sewer systems, worries about the cost of iron and lead time for materials may affect this multiyear, multimillion-dollar project. CONTRIBUTED

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As the Greene County commission seeks bids on several of its Greene Forward project to upgrade the county’s water and sewer systems, worries about the cost of iron and lead time for materials may affect this multiyear, multimillion-dollar project. CONTRIBUTED

The Greene Forward project is a huge effort to improve county water and sewer infrastructure

As the Greene County commission seeks bids on several of its Greene Forward projects to upgrade the county’s water and sewer systems, worries about the cost of iron and timing for materials may affect this multiyear, multimillion-dollar project.

County commissioners Thursday agreed to seek bids to construct two water mains on Grange Hall Road estimated at $715,000, and for the North Wellfield Refurbishment on Beaver Valley Road in Beavercreek Twp, estimated at $1.6 million.

But materials and labor shortages, as well as a lack of competition among contractors, have driven up costs of planned improvements to the county’s water and sewer systems. And county officials have speculated it’s going to get worse.

“A year from now is going to be the worst time in the world to build,” county administrator Brandon Huddleson told commissioners Thursday.

The cost of ductile iron piping, which is used in water distribution, has skyrocketed to almost 100% of what it was a year ago. Stainless steel, metal roofing, and equipment are also seeing huge increases, Greene County Sanitary Engineering director Jason Tincu said. Pipe suppliers are only holding quotes for a single day, compared to the normal 60 days because of variability in the market.

“A lot of what drives our cost is competition, and if you don’t have competition, your project pricing is naturally going to inflate. Across the entire industry, you’re seeing 20, 30, 50% increases,” Tincu said. “Contractors are putting inflationary risk in their proposals because they don’t know what the market’s going to be 60 days from now.”

Greene County Sanitary Engineering Department has been upgrading the water and sewer system across its service area through a reinvestment campaign called Greene Forward. The goals of the series of projects include providing softer water, enhancing water quality and increasing system reliability.

The first phase will build and connect new water mains and wells, rehabilitate pump stations, replace residential and commercial water meters and expand a water treatment plant. The second phase will expand wastewater treatment facilities and upgrade the sewer collection system.

The county is about 30% of the way through a complete metering system upgrade, and is establishing permanent well casings at the new Hilltop Wellfield, located on a 57-acre property on Hilltop Road. Once all upgrades are complete, Greene County’s water systems will be able to deliver 12 million gallons of water per day.

Despite the increase in costs, the upgrades are necessary, county officials said. Like many areas, Greene County has aging infrastructure, hard water and growing demand.

“We’re only doing what’s needed to secure water and sewer services for the next 20 years for Greene County. None of this is extra. These are all needs, not wants,” Tincu said.

“Greene County continues to grow, mostly from a residential perspective but also from a commercial and industrial perspective, and it’s our duty and responsibility to make sure we have adequate water capacity to serve the long-term planning needs for the county. If we were to do nothing, we would have to stop development,” Tincu said.

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