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Ohio has issued a temporary moratorium that is preventing two townships from adding any new sewer lines in the southern part of the county.
County Engineer Bert Dawson said he was told this week by an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency there would be no more permits issued to add sewer customers that require the extension of county sewer lines in Liverpool and St. Clair townships.
"Hopefully, we can get this resolved because unless we do the EPA isn't going to issue any more permits-to-install," he said. The moratorium is only temporary and because the county and East Liverpool have yet to reach an agreement over how to treat wastewater from new county customers.
The county has a contract with East Liverpool to treat sewage from existing county customers in Calcutta at the city's treatment plant.
The OEPA is now requiring the county to provide sewer service to the Glenmoor and Substation sections of St. Clair Township and the LaCroft section of Liverpool Township. Both areas are plagued by a number of malfunctioning septic systems that are dumping untreated wastewater into yards and ditches.
To address the problem, the engineering firm hired by the county has suggested amending the contract with East Liverpool so county sewer lines can be extended to Glenmoor/Substation and LaCroft to comply with the OEPA.
Officials originally thought East Liverpool's plant would have to be expanded to take in the additional sewage resulting from the new county customers. But officials learned this could be accomplished by modifying the plant's operating permit without having to physically expand the plant.
A new contract between the city and county has yet be reached. Meanwhile, the OEPA has begun refusing to issue permits for new sewer customers until something is done because the East Liverpool plant is near treatment capacity, Dawson said.
"We've been at this for the past six months and we've not gotten off dead center," he said of negotiations.
Dawson said he found out about this when the developer of a doctor's office on Bell School Road in St. Clair Township was turned down by the OEPA when he applied for a permit to obtain sewer service by extending a nearby county sewer line to the site.
Dawson met last week with OEPA officials and they are to forward him a letter explaining the policy, which is not to consider any sewer permit applications until the issue is resolved.
"They're not denying anything. It's just being left there," he said the applications.
Dawson said the moratorium on applications apparently also applies to East Liverpool, which could pose a problem when the city plans to extend sewer service to a proposed housing development and industrial park in the city's East End.
He intends to schedule a meeting after the first of the year with East Liverpool's new city council to discuss moving forward on the contract.
"We think it's to everyone's benefit...They (East Liverpool) have an industrial park and they won't be able to run a line to it," Dawson said.