Salem utilities board OKs Chesapeake water changes

SALEM – The city Utilities Commission again agreed to sell water to Chesapeake Operating Inc. after approving some language changes in the contract Tuesday.

The commission also approved an agreement with Chesapeake allowing the company to install a temporary water line across land near the Salem Reservoir on Gamble Road for the point of distribution for the purchased water.

The city Utilities Department will determine the area for transporting the water, with the company agreeing to pay the city $3 per lineal foot for the water line. Assistant Utilities Superintendent Matt Hoopes estimated the water line could end up being anywhere from 50 to 100 feet.

The Utilities Commission had already agreed to the one-year water selling deal in January at a fee of $5 per 1,000 gallons of raw water, but Chesapeake wanted a change in the Workers’ Compensation language, with city Law Director Brooke Zellers approving the changes.

In other business, the commission agreed to pay $15,700 for Burgess and Niple Inc. to complete computer flow modeling of the Salem water distribution system as a means to determine what would happen if they shut down the Highland Avenue water storage tank. The tank needs repairs, but commission members questioned whether it was worth it to make the repairs and repaint and refurbish the tank or just take it offline.

Geoff Goll said Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart told him previously that the tank adds to the circulation of the water system, so the commission members asked the department to show them why to keep the tank open.

The computer flow modeling will show the whole water system and any problem areas, information which can be used for other things besides the decision about the Highland Avenue water tank, according to Bob Schreiner of Burgess and Niple.

The commission also heard a presentation from Zach Held of Burgess and Niple regarding recommendations to help reduce disinfectant by-product chemical formations in the Stewart Road reservoir to keep within the limits required by the state and federal law. He suggested the installation of both mixing and aeration systems to help with recirculation. One option from Solar Bee for both systems was estimated at $143,560. The second option, which involved installation of more hardware and more intrusive equipment, was from PAX for $470,000.

Goll asked if they could do just the mixing system to start to see if that would meet the minimum requirements for now.

No decision was made, with Hoopes suggesting they wait because Weingart had some questions regarding the systems.

The commission made no decision on requests for utility bill adjustments from four separate property owners, but did discuss whether a change in policy should be done. It was decided to continue looking at each situation on a case-to-case basis, with the understanding that customers must pay for the water used, but considerations can be taken into account for the sewer side.

Commission Vice Chairman Bob Hodgson said each circumstance is unique and needs addressed on its merits. The four property owners will be asked to attend a commission meeting to explain their situation.

Goll kicked off the meeting talking about the fact that the city water for a new Columbiana County water line for several county entities near County Home Road has been turned on and was a long time coming. The first bill for water usage has already been sent to the county.

He also talked about Perry Township residents agreeing Monday to go forward with a sewer line extension project being handled by the county on Depot and Brooklyn/Painter roads. The Utilities Commission is funding part of the project and allowing residents to pay the cost through a 15-year assessment on their property taxes with 5 percent interest.

“We’re really pleased to be able to help the residents of Perry Township,” he said.

The commission honored longtime employee Robert Hiltbrand with a plaque in recognition of his retirement after 20 years service from Feb. 22, 1993 through March 15 this year.

They also recognized the 10 years of service of Todd Carle, who served from Jan. 4, 1993 through March 13, 1998 and again from Feb. 4, 2008 through Feb. 15 this year. He left for a job with the county.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at