Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stimulus Plan to Help Athens Sewer Division

by Ed Zelaski

The Athens Division of Water and Sewer could benefit from President Obama’s federal economic stimulus plan. The city applied for grants that would help pay for the upgrade to the city’s sewage treatment plant. City council was forced to cut $216,000 from the sewer department’s budget because of the tough economic times.

Stimulus Funds
Water and Sewer Director Nicholas Carr says that the wastewater treatment plant needs major improvements. He says the system dates back to the 1950’s. The stimulus funds would help pay for much needed improvements. He says the upgrades to the facility could improve the odor from the plant. “We have a lot of odor complaints down there,” Carr says.

Carr says he also wants federal stimulus money to help with the upkeep of the city’s water filtration system. He says that the filters, or clarifiers as they're called, need to be upgraded to keep meeting federal EPA standards. A lack of maintenance has caused the clarifiers to deteriorate. “We don’t have enough money to maintain them properly and they’re deteriorating,” Carr says.

Water and Sewer Director Nicholas Carr talks about the sewer projects

Benefits to Residents
These upgrades would improve service for Athens residents, Carr says. “Our system dates back to the 1950’s and 1960’s, but some of the uptown area even dates farther back than that,” he says. By upgrading the system, Athens residents would receive better water and sewer service. These repairs would cut down on the amount of water that needs to be treated at the plant. Carr says that the city knows where the problem areas are, they just need to have the money to be able to repair them.

Carr also says that he hopes City Council will do more than just go after stimulus money. He says his department needs a 10% water and sewer rate hike to make up for the more than $200,000 budget cut. The stimulus money would help with major repair work, but there is also routine maintenance that needs to be paid for.

Water and Sewer Director Nicholas Carr on how the repairs will benefit Athens

Other Stimulus Projects
The Athens Division of Water and Sewer is not the only department in the county that is asking for stimulus funds. The City of Athens is also requesting money for a new child care facility, repairs to the Grosvenor Slip, and the Lancaster Street paving and sidewalk rehabilitation. The child care facility would create 10 new jobs and would serve 100 children ages infant to before and after school programs.

Click here to see the full list of the Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District projects for stimulus funding.

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