Garrettsville – Garrettsville unveiled its $6 million expansion and improvement of the village’s 52-year-old wastewater treatment plant with public tours on July 14. The new extended aeration system went online in February, following a two-year period of final planning and construction.
The new system is 99.5 percent effective in removing bacteria and harmful microorganisms from the wastewater before it’s returned to Eagle Creek. (A water sample is taken prior to discharge of treated effluent back to Eagle Creek, ensuring that the water complies with safety standards.)
The state-of-the-art system utilizes numerous 19-foot-deep holding tanks at various stages of the decontamination process to aerate incoming wastewater from storm sewers, industry, business and household use. The water is oxygenated and decontaminated with the use of beneficial bacterial colonies and enzymes which feed on the pollutants; plus a mechanical system of screens, pumps, and filters; as well as ultraviolet light for disinfection instead of chlorine. By the end of the process, the sludge is safe to use as fertilizer on farmers’ fields.
The village is one mile square, but 16 miles of wastewater collection flows into the treatment plant. Treatment capacity has increased nearly five times the volume of the old system, to a half-million gallons of water per day. Considering the fact that the village generates about 180,000-300,000 gallons of wastewater daily, this expansion will accommodate robust future growth.
As water department superintendent Jeff Sheehan explained during the tours, the village allowed raw sewage to be discharged directly into Eagle Creek up until 1960, when it installed the initial wastewater treatment plant. Garrettsville was actually ahead of the curve among most municipalities, who didn’t recognize their role in preventing water pollution until after the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962.
The wastewater treatment plant was upgraded and improved incrementally every decade, but this most recent expansion was a major overhaul. During the boom years in the 1990s, 15-20 new homes a year were being built in Garrettsville. With that pace of growth, the water department realized they needed a larger footprint for adequate expansion. Eventually, the village was able to expand by purchasing the Clyde property through eminent domain to the west of their existing parcel along Water Street.
Residents have been helping to offset the $6 million project cost through 8% rate increases for three years in a row (a 36% total rate increase). Loan repayment estimates are $450,000 annually. But thanks to a $300,000 Issue One grant and a 0% interest loan from the EPA, the water department is saving $2 million in projected interest costs.
Although the official tour day has passed, Sheehan says he would be happy to take interested residents on tours of the wastewater treatment plant any time. Call (330) 527-2080 to inquire.