MARIETTA - A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to stabilize more than 1,050 feet of riverbank and save a major city sanitary sewer line from dropping into the Ohio River should be completed soon, according to the Marietta City Engineer's Office.
The main sewer line, located along the river just upstream from the city's wastewater treatment plant, was initially installed to service the Kardex complex in Reno, and is still an active line.
"The bank was eroding there, and if the sewer line became exposed it could fail," said Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department.
Failure of the line could result in raw sewage spilled into the Ohio River, which could be in violation of the city's NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit, governed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Wastewater superintendent "Steve Elliott has calculated that the EPA would be within its rights to fine the city $16,000 a day if a spill occurred," Lambert said.
City Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, who chairs council's water, sewer and sanitation committee, said the potential for sewer line failure was a good reason to get the project done as soon as possible.
* $411,000 - Total cost of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to stabilize 1,050 feet of Ohio River bank and prevent erosion from potentially damaging a Marietta sanitary sewer main.
* $267,150 - 65 percent federal funding through USACE.
* $143,850 - 35 percent local match from the city of Marietta.
Source: Marietta City Engineer's Office
"We didn't even want to think about that, so we knew we had to secure the riverbank," he said. "And we were lucky to obtain the rights of way for construction from property owners there. That could have cost us a lot of money."
Lambert said the landowners who donated the rights of way during the project included Frank Christy, Walter and Jeff Voshel and the Washington County Commissioners.
The project began with cutting back of trees and other vegetation to make room for construction equipment, then a special geo-technical fabric was spread along the riverbank over which layers of rock were laid.
Lambert said the rock is worked into the bank until it forms a solid dike wall that resists flooding and erosion.
"The work should be done by the end of this year," he said, noting that the Corps of Engineers wants to have the project completed while the Ohio River is low. Waiting until spring would also increase the possibility of flooding that could cause damage if it occurs before the project is done.
Although most riverbank stabilization projects are traditionally built from barges on the river, Lambert said this project had to be constructed on land because a shallow shoal located just off the bank was considered a possible habitat for an endangered mussel species.
The total cost of the stabilization project was $411,000, with 65 percent covered by federal funding through the Corps of Engineers, and a 35 percent local match from the city sewer fund.