The village of Russells Point and Ohio RCAP were honored at the Ohio Conference of Community Development, Inc.’s summer meeting for their water treatment plant upgrade project, which involved installing granular activated carbon (GAC) to the existing treatment plant to reduce total organic carbon in treated water. The village was under findings and orders from the Ohio EPA to correct MCL violations for trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. The deficiencies relate to the disinfection by-products rule in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Located just south of Indian Lake in northwest Logan County, Russells Point has three wells that serve as the source of drinking water with an average daily flow of 150,000 gallons per day. The village has a population of 1,619 with a low and moderate income population of 54.1 percent based on the 2000 Census.
Findings and orders from the Ohio EPA were issued to the village as it was just coming out of fiscal emergency with the Ohio State Auditor’s Office. With approval from the state auditor, the village instituted rate increases through 2011 with combined rates at 3.4 percent of the village’s median household income of $27,589 and water rates at 2.2 percent. These rates are considered pushing the affordability range so the challenge became getting the project financed within the planned rate adjustment parameters.
Two things critical to the success of infrastructure projects for small systems are choosing appropriate, economically feasible treatment options and juggling multiple funding sources to keep the cost of the project affordable. This proved to be true for Russells Point as well. With involvement of its operator Dale Albert and CTI Engineer’s Inc. of Canton, Ohio, Russells Point chose a lower cost approach to reducing organics in its drinking water, one that it could adapt to its current treatment process.
Total project cost was estimated at $1,759,563, leaving it up to Ohio RCAP to find affordable financing for the project.
As it does with every project, Ohio RCAP reviewed all the state and federal funding sources trying to find the best, most affordable sources of funding for small systems. First, RCAP was able to secure a 0 percent design loan through Ohio EPA’s Water Supply Revolving Loan Account. When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed, the Russells Point project looked like a perfect candidate to secure funding through the ARRA WSRLA. The project would address a public health threat and create jobs. In addition, detailed plans had already been approved. However, due to increased demand in the WSRLA, the Russells Point project did not score high enough to make the funding list. RCAP then took the fall back funding route, securing a $500,000 grant through the ARRA Community Development Block Grant program and matching those funds with a 1.5 percent, 30-year loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority.
The CDBG ARRA award saved the village over $800,000 in debt financing on the project and reduced the annual debt service from over $73,000 annually to around $46,000 which enabled the village to complete the project under the planned rate increases. The final project costs were only 0.1 percent over estimated costs, and the project was completed and operational within the compliance schedule of 36 months from planning to start up.
When RCAP asked the operator how the GAC system was working, Albert said, “Exactly as expected. The GAC reduced total organic compounds to undetectable levels.”