Devola sewer system to be discussed

DEVOLA – On Tuesday, residents of Devola will have the opportunity to learn more about an alternate plan for a proposed sewer system for the community.

A town hall meeting, moderated by Commissioner Ron Feathers, will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Devola Volunteer Fire Department.

Attending will be Washington County Commissioners, representatives of the Washington County Health Department, Washington County Engineer Roger Wright, Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider and John Grosse, the engineering consultant from Stantec.

“We want anybody and everybody to participate even if they are already sewered,” Feathers said. “We want them to feel free to participate in this public discussion.”

The commissioners were able to delay the start of any project until March. The study results and a plan of action are due to the OEPA at that time.

In 2010, during a months-long study of the community’s drinking water, a high level of nitrates was found at one point, flagging the water as unsafe, Feathers said. A $2.6 million reverse osmosis facility was installed to clean the water.

Mark Wurtzbacher, 52, of Devola, said he is opposed to the new sewer system. It was because of the new osmosis system that his most recent water/sewer bill doubled to between $60 and $70. He plans to attend Tuesday’s town hall meeting.

“It’s overkill,” Wurtzbacher said. “I think Devola was targeted for the city of Marietta to add 300 customers to help pay for their expanded (wastewater treatment plant).”

He and his wife have lived in their home since 1993, and he said his properly maintained septic system is just as good as a sewer system.

“They are wanting to charge me $20,000 to give me something I already have for free,” Wurtzbacher said of the cost to tie into the new system.

The town hall meeting will give residents the opportunity to voluntarily participate by having their systems inspected by the health department. Based on that data, the county will decided how best to proceed with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Each inspection will cost less that $100, Feathers said.

Instead of thrusting a $6 million sewer project on Devola’s residents, the county wants to study the problem and possibly find a more economical solution, Feathers said.

“Maybe there is a different remedy than a $6 million sewer system we’re going to have to pay for the rest of our lives,” Feathers said.