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Council discusses water plans

BUCKEYE LAKE- The Village of Buckeye Lake is definitely and aggressively going to pursue a public water system, however the source is still up in the air. The Buckeye Lake Village Council met in a special session late Wednesday afternoon with Kevin Wood, M•E Companies vice president; the village hired M•E Companies engineering firmto design a village public water system. “We are moving ahead, period,” said Mayor Frank Foster. Currently, council members are deciding between buying bulk water from Millersport or Hebron, who have both made offers, or building a village operated system.

Wood told council that a village operated system is still the most cost effective means of providing public water, even though the village would need to shell out and additional $2.25 million to build a water plant, in addition to spending $4.5 million for a distribution system, which the village must spend no matter who processes the water. It’s important to note that M•E Companies would build the water plant as well as the distribution system if council decides on a village operated public water system.

Wood said if Buckeye Lake contracts for bulk water from Hebron, the village would pay $1 million to run a water line beneath I-70 to access Hebron’s water plant. And the village would pay Hebron a one-time tap fee of $550,000. If the village goes with Millersport, it would need to build a pump station for $250,000 and pay a one-time tap fee of $300,000. While neither of those charges add to the $2.25 million necessary to build a water plant, he said that when the $3 per 1,000 gallons of water–which both Hebron and Millersport would charge–is factored into the equation, he said residents could pay up to $10 less per month with a village operated system, as opposed to buying bulk water from Millersport or Hebron.

But, Wood was clear that in order for the village to consider a village operated system it must re-test its well field. “We’ll know for sure how much water can be pumped out,” he said. “In regards to your own system, the next step is the pump test.” The test will cost up to $25,000. He said a report from 1992 showed a good aquifer and that two wells would be required for a village operated system. The village needs to re-test the wells to fulfillthe requirements of a Capability Assurance Plan, which the village must complete in order to receive a loan for the water system from the Ohio Water Development Authority. The village would not need to re-test the well field if it purchased bulk water from Millersport or Hebron.

Village officials will meet with Ohio EPA Environmental Specialist Jose Quinones at the well field Oct. 10, 9 a.m. to discuss its status.

Foster said the council could only consider numerical values during Wednesday’s meeting and the village doesn’t have enough information to decide upon a source quite yet, but the longer the village waits, the more expensive a water system becomes. The largest price jump comes with the PVC piping that makes up the distribution system; PVC pipe is a petrolium product, and the price of crude oil continues to rise.

Wood said the village needs to convince as many people as possible to sign onto the water system. “The more people you have to spread the debt over, the better,” he said. An option is to offer half price tap fees to the people who sign on when the system is installed. Once the system is installed, it’s likely that everyone in the village will pay a fee to cover the cost of installing the system (called “debt service”), whether the resident is drawing water from it or not.

Council President Charlene Hayden said the Ohio EPA is encouraging the village to join an existing water system, like Millersport or Hebron. Wood said Tuesday that the EPA must regulate all plants, so fewer plants are obviously easier to regulate. Wood said he encourages the council to look at the possibility of connecting to another community and decide what’s best for Buckeye Lake Village. He believes the EPA will approve a village operated plant if it meets the EPA’s requirements.

Wood distributed a document to council members showing estimated monthly charges for customers, however, those preliminary estimates may be inflatedbecause they did not include revenue from tap fees, which could add up to more than $2 million. Without more information, including an actual count of how many people will agree to tie onto the system (unlike sewer service, residents are not required to access public water when it’s available nearby), it’s tough to estimate accurately what the monthy bills will be.

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