Village plans to aerate reservoir

LEETONIA- The village will be pursuing an aeration system for its water reservoir in response to an impending Ohio EPA violation for elevated levels of disinfection byproducts.

Village Administrator Gary Phillips told the water committee Wednesday night that the administration is seeking an aerator to circulate the water in the Orchard Hill reservoir that Jon Vollnogle, president of Howells and Baird civil engineers, said should eliminate 55 percent of the byproducts, bringing the village below the threshold. Vollnogle said that estimate is based on the assumption that Salem, which provides water to Leetonia and where the problem is originating, does nothing.

Vollnogle said based on a cost analysis for Washingtonville, which also receives water from Salem and has already been notified of its violation, he guessed the system will cost Leetonia $1,000 per year. The initial estimate predicts a $120,000 cost to install the system, which has a design life of 25 years, but the project will likely need bid out, so the cost could be lower, Vollnogle said.

According to Phillips, the system needs to pass engineering, then be submitted to the OEPA for approval before being bid out. However, he said nothing can be done until the village is notified of a violation. He also noted that no matter what Salem does to correct the problem, the system will benefit the village’s water in the long term, especially if the village were ever to return to its own water supply.

Superintendent of Utilities Butch Donnalley said that there has been open dialogue with the OEPA to stay on top of the situation, remaining proactive to address the problem as quickly as possible.

“In light of the bad situation…I think we’re heading in the right direction,” he said, assuring customers that the water does not present a short term health risk.

“You’d have to drink a lot of water for a very long period of time,” he said.

Phillips responded to questions from the committee regarding other solutions, citing cost effectiveness as the reason for the aerator system. He said Salem will not be able to fix the problem on its own (the high cost would be passed on to customers) and ideas such as installing a loop or a flushing system at the industrial park (an extremity where the water samples are collected) would not be cost effective due to the low usage in the area and impact on just that immediate area instead of the entire village.

Committee member Sue Buchanan asked whether the byproducts are excreted into the air from the aerator, to which Vollnogle responded that they are so minuscule in size that they dissipate very quickly. He assured the committee that the system is a common system used by municipalities.

Committee member Mark Gardner asked if the village can renegotiate its contract with Salem for the water, but Phillips said he is more concerned right now with getting customers the best possible water.

“[We’re] always open to the option, though,” he said.

The project will still need approved by Village Council.