Sewer Project Likely to Hold High Costs for Riverview Road Residents
Officials say costs won’t be formalized until the bidding process in the spring, but current projections place the project at nearly $1.5 million.
Residents of Riverview Road last night got a glimpse of the city's plans to replace their aging septic tanks with a sanitary sewer system along the street.
The mayor, members of City Council and other city and county officials spent about two hours formally and informally answering residents' questions during a public meeting Thursday evening in the lower level of City Hall. The meeting was originally scheduled for Dec. 13, but was cancelled because of that day's heavy snow.
The construction portion of the project could take up to eight months and restrict travel on the road, said City Engineer Gerald Wise. It's also likely to cost residents on the road thousands of dollars—per household—when all is said and done. Approximately 56 plots of land, including three commercial properties on Chippewa Road, will be affected.
Mayor Jerry Hruby told residents that the city tried to spend some time on this decision, looking for funding for the project.
"We knew that this would be a very expensive installation," Hruby said.
The estimated cost for the project is about $1,411,000, Wise said. After subtracting the city's contribution and funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission, there is an estimated $926,000 cost for residents to split: about $16,500 per household.
But those costs are just estimates, as there have been no bids on the project at this point. Bidding will likely begin in April 2011, Wise said, and construction should start that summer. It is expected to wrap up by the end of 2011.
Mike Harwood, City Council member and chair of the city's utilities committee, said the economy might actually help lower the costs of construction, because people are eager for work. Residents won't receive official costs until after the work is complete, and the city has tested the system. Once that step is finished, likely in early 2012, Wise said, residents will receive a letter with the final cost.
Residents are required by Ohio law to participate when a sewer line is available, said Nate McConoughey, a sanitarian for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. They cannot opt out and continue to use a septic tank.
Many of the septic tanks on Riverview Road are more than 50 years old, Harwood said. Those tanks have a 20- to 30-year life-span, he added, and many have failed.
Along Riverview Road, that means sewage may be released into ditches by the road or right into the Cuyahoga River, said Megan Dunleavy, a sanitarian for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Dunleavy explained that many of the septic tanks in question use a filtering system, which means that they are supposed to release clean water. If one is failing, it funnels raw sewage into the environment instead, but the owner may not notice a difference inside his or her home.
The city must solve that waste problem soon to meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements, Paul Grau, the city's director of law, told residents.
After the project is complete, residents will have 30 days to choose how to pay. Residents may pay in one lump sum, or they may choose to spread the cost over a 20-year assessment, which includes some interest, Grau said. All residents will pay the same amount for the project, as each is receiving one connection to the system.
Residents must also pay for a licensed contractor to attach the system to their home, because the city is not permitted to perform work on private property. Additionally, as a resident in the audience pointed out and Wise confirmed, they will begin seeing higher water bills, as they are charged for sewage services that they had not used before.
Officials took questions from the public—mostly about whether the septic tanks were actually failing—for about an hour. They also waited after the meeting to answer questions one-on-one.