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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Oak Harbor poised to open a sewer system regulator

Officials in Oak Harbor are taking a stride in the effort to fix a major problem with the sewer system and related flooding in residential areas.

Village leaders recently received Ohio Environmental Protection Agency permission for a modified sewer system permit request to open the combined sewer overflow regulator valve on Portage Street, according to interim village administrator Randy Genzman.

Opening that site will help relieve stress on the system in times of heavy rainfall.

The agency gave its OK to the request weeks after village council hired the engineering firm Jones & Henry in January. The village fired its former engineering firm, Poggemeyer Design Group, in the fall of last year following a number of incidents related to the construction of its now troubled combined sewer system overflow pond.

Genzman told village council members Monday the estimated cost to open the closed valve figured at $6,500 - well below the projected $10,000.

Since the project cost is beneath the dollar amount necessary to seek council approval, Genzman is on the hunt for a contractor to start the job as soon as possible. The clock is ticking on the project as residents worry about seasonal rains.

In the mean time, Jones & Henry staff is pouring through data collected March 13 at a public meeting from flooding victims. That information will be used to explain the severity of the flooding situation to EPA officials and, hopefully, convince them to allow more closed system regulator valves to be re-opened while village officials work on a long-term fix, Genzman said.

Opening the valves is not a catch-all solution to stop the flooding but is expected to make a considerable difference in handling flows, he added.

About 20 residents showed up with photos, damage bills and stories to tell engineers in one-on-one interviews.

The event was well received, councilman Jim Seaman said.

Maps depicted trouble spots and others showed the step-by-step initial plan village officials have to curb the massive sewer water flows menacing residents.

Seaman believes the hearing helped forge a better relationship with some of those impacted by the repetitive flooding.

“People saw that we really are trying to do something to fix the problem,” Seaman said.

Councilman Jon Fickert suggested council send out the word via news media and others that they still wanted to hear from any residents who had stories to tell. The more people willing to share those stories increases the village chances of reaching its eventually goal to stem the problem, he said.

Genzman noted that a few others residents had called in before and after the event to get their information on the record. He also encouraged others to either call him at the administration office (419-898-5561) or to drop off their packets of information at town hall.

The discussion then turned to the continuing problem with the mats tethered to the walls of the overflow pond. Less than six months after the protective mats were installed, the mats can’t handle the turbulence created by the underflow at the pond

“The pressure is eating at these mats,” Seaman said. At this rate, he concluded, they won’t last five years.

Engineers and village wastewater department staff are busy compiling alternatives to keep the mats stationary.

Two local firms, Northern Manufacturing and Eagle Fabrication, were approached to create pins of various components that may help solve the problem. Cost estimates for prototypes were passed out among council members to consider.

Village staffers are also consulting the firm that installed the mats as well as the manufacturer Flexomat.

New dispatching services

The Oak Harbor Police Department will soon begin dispatching services for the Rocky Ridge Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service.

Police Chief Steve Weirich said he was recently approached by Rocky Ridge officials about providing the service the department currently extends to Carroll Township Fire and EMS, Portage Fire District Fire Department and Mid-County EMS.

Weirich asked if council had any objections to a $1,000 a year contract similar to those signed by the other entities. Council members authorized the deal.

The goal, the chief said, is to have the contract ready within a week and begin services as soon as Rocky Ridge Village Council approves the paperwork.

Currently the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office tones out the Rocky Ridge emergency units for service calls. But that is the extent of their service, the chief said.

Oak Harbor will monitor the radio traffic after the initial tone, call utility services such as Toledo Edison and Columbia Gas as well as keep a detailed log of all the incidents. That continued monitoring clinched the deal for the units specifically because of liability and accountability issues, Weirich explained.

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