Waynesville studies sewer, water changes

Village might turn over utilities to Warren County.

Warren County Water and Sewer Department

A regional water supplier that owns and operates two water treatment plants with a total Ohio EPA rated capacity of 12 million gallons per day. The treatment plants treats water from wells located along the Great Miami and Little Miami aquifers. The water is distributed from four booster pump stations through 500 miles of water mains to over 28,000 water customers. Fire protection and daily storage is provided from eight elevated storage tanks with a total storage volume of 13 million gallons.

The County serves the Villages of Corwin, Harveysburg, and Maineville, as well as portions of Clear Creek, Deerfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Turtle Creek, Union, and Wayne Townships. In addition to the water furnished by our plants the County purchases potable water from the City of Springboro, Village of Waynesville and the City of Cincinnati.

The Warren County Water and Sewer Department serves over 18,000 sewer customers throughout the County. It owns and operates three wastewater treatment plants with Ohio EPA permitted capacities of 7.2 million gallons per day, 80,000 and 16,000 gallons per day. The County also has agreements with the Metropolitan Sewer District, Franklin Regional Wastewater Treatment Corporation, Butler County and the Village of Waynesville to provide wastewater treatment to portions of unincorporated areas of the County. The County maintains over 340 miles of sanitary sewers and 70 sewage pump stations.

Source: Warren County Water and Sewer Department

Waynesville is weighing whether to turn over its water and sewer systems to Warren County.

The village sewer plant needs at least $1 million in maintenance, according to village officials.

The plant also needs as much as $10 million in upgrades to handle a doubling of in-flows projected from new developments outside village limits, officials said.

The village council voted this month to begin negotiations on turning over the plants, water towers and other liabilities, as well as rate-paying water and sewer customers, to the county.

“We lose the revenue potential,” Councilman Dick Elliott said, “but at the same time we lose the liability, and the liability is huge.”

In addition to maintenance and capital costs, ownership of a sewer system comes with potential liabilities resulting from malfunctions, such as release of untreated sewage into the Little Miami River.

The council also is considering ending service to customers outside the village, while retaining the utilities for local users.

While less costly than a sewer system, retaining the water system would leave the village with staff costs nearly as high as if it maintained both utilities, officials said.

Waynesville recently emerged after six years in fiscal emergency, but faces future funding problems unless voters renew a 1-percent income tax that expires on June 30, 2015. Maintaining the utilities is likely to require large rate hikes, officials said.

“It’s kind of tough sometimes for villages to own and operate treatment plants,” said Chris Brausch, who heads the county Water and Sewer Department.

The county could take on the village utilities, Brausch said.

“It’s something we would be interested in exploring with them,” Brausch said. “What the county is looking for is a long-term solution.”

The county and village have an agreement through 2019, but the need for additional sewer capacity is prompting officials to confront the issue now.

In June, the village expects the results of a study determining the cost and likely rate hikes needed for the village to maintain the utilities. Next year, Waynesville projects a reduction in the sewer fund, indicating rates might need to be raised regardless.

The council voted unanimously to talk about turning over the sewer system, but Mayor David Stubbs opposed talks over the water system because of the future revenue potential.

“I would rather not right now put water on the table,” Stubbs said.

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