Work will begin this spring on a $2.8 million sewer system upgrade that will bring Ashland closer to compliance with EPA mandates to decrease the amount of sewage that overflows into the Ohio River during storms.
The upgrades include improvements to a pump station at 37th Street and a pressurized sewer main that will route sewage more directly to the city’s treatment plant.
The city commission authorized the work Thursday. The city will borrow the money from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, said City Manager Steve Corbitt.
Payments on the low-interest loan will come from the $2.50 per 1,000 gallons surcharge on sewage bills. The average household using between 4,000 and 5,000 gallons per month will pay an additional $10 per month, Corbitt said.
The work affects sewage collection in almost half the city but is likely to go mostly unnoticed because it will take place largely in nonresidential areas, according to Engineering and Utilities Director Ryan Eastwood.
When it is finished, the upgraded pump station will send sewage through the pressurized main directly to the treatment plant. Currently, sewage goes through pipes shared with other parts of the city’s system, which combines sanitary and storm sewers, Eastwood said.
Because the two are combined, the system is vulnerable to overflows during heavy rainfall, and when that happens, raw sewage ends up in the river.
The improvements won’t eliminate overflow, but will considerably dilute it, Eastwood said.
The city is required to make the improvements to comply with federal clean water standards by preventing sewage from escaping into the river.
The project is the second phase of the city’s remediation efforts to comply with the EPA. The first project fixed two of eight overflow points by upgrading pump stations on 6th Street and Roberts Drive and installing about three miles of pressurized mains to carry waste to the treatment plant.
Those overflow points were priorities because waste escaped into smaller bodies of water, including Little Hoods Creek and Long Branch, and thus was more concentrated and hazardous.
The city has until 2017 to complete the entire system.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2652.