Mayor Frank Foster of Buckeye Lake Village, located about 30 miles southeast of Columbus, says it was a day 20 years in the making.
On June 24, 2009, ground was broken on the village’s project to bring clean drinking water from Millersport, on the opposite side of the lake where the village sits. Buckeye Lake officials had tried many times over the years to find a way to bring safe drinking water to their community.
With more than 3,000 residents, the community was the largest in Ohio without a public water system. Many of the community’s private wells had high levels of bacterial contamination, and some had high arsenic levels.
Despite the clear need for a water system, the development of the project had been very divisive for the community, and affordability for the users of the system was critical. Pursuing a regional solution through the purchase of treated water from an existing system that has the capacity to serve the village saves Buckeye Lake a considerable amount of money both in upfront capital costs and in operating costs and complying with regulations over the long term.
RCAP assisted the village with many aspects of obtaining funding for the project, including development of a financing plan, preparation of its applications, determining user rates, and holding public meetings to explain the plan to residents.
The village received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (economic stimulus) funds through the Ohio EPA’s State Revolving Fund program, as well as funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission and the Ohio Department of Development’s Community Development Block Grant program.
RCAP staff also provided its project development course to village officials, which helps small communities understand how to plan, design and construct infrastructure projects. The mayor and several of the council members attended several of Ohio RCAP’s training sessions, including utility board training, financial management and asset management.
The project was a $7 million distribution system that became operational in July 2010. Millersport stepped in as the treated water supplier for the new system. The biggest part of the project was laying 67,000 feet of water lines and the installation of a water tank and pump.
At the groundbreaking over a year ago, the mayor noted that not only will the new project bring the benefits of affordable, clean drinking water to current residents, but he hopes having clean water available will increase residential developments and attract businesses that might not otherwise be interested in the area. These potential benefits will serve the village well in the next 20 years – and beyond.
Deb Martin, Great Lakes RCAP, contributed to this article, with additional reporting by RCAP staff.John Rauch, Ohio RCAP, provided the videos. This article, without the videos, originally ran in the summer 2009 issue of Rural Matters (page 11), RCAP’s magazine.