City looks to NORW for emergency water supply

Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch told city council members Tuesday in a work session the city and Northern Ohio Rural Water have worked out the first phase of a plan to connect water lines between the two on the south side of town so NORW could provide the city with water in case of an emergency. "We have been negotiating with Northern Ohio Rural Water for over a year,' Lesch said. "I'm very pleased to tell you we're moving forward on a plan that has been talked about for decades.'
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch told city council members Tuesday in a work session the city and Northern Ohio Rural Water have worked out the first phase of a plan to connect water lines between the two on the south side of town so NORW could provide the city with water in case of an emergency.

“We have been negotiating with Northern Ohio Rural Water for over a year,” Lesch said. “I’m very pleased to tell you we’re moving forward on a plan that has been talked about for decades.”

She said an emergency water supply for the city is part of Norwalk’s comprehensive plan.

If the city does have to buy water from NORW, that agency will only charge the city what the city charges residents so it will not be an additional cost to the city. Norwalk must, however, pay a $9,474.59 tap-in fee to NORW.

Lesch said if city water lines are updated so that the city was in the position to sell water to NORW in the future, NORW would have to pay a tap-in fee to the city.

Future plans call for city water lines to tie into NORW lines on the north and east side of the city also, Lesch said, but the details for those agreements haven’t been worked out. She said the deal on the north side of town would probably be more expensive and the two entities might work out a shared water deal for the east side of town.

Rick Brown, water and wastewater superintendent, said NORW provides water that is already treated so the city doesn’t have any expense other than the cost of the tap-in.

He said the idea of getting water from Lake Erie was discussed, but the cost of that was prohibitive. “The cost of treating water is going right through the roof,” Brown said.

NORW already has agreements with other cities to share water and this move puts Norwalk into a grid of inland communities working in partnership with water suppliers.

“This provides us with some flexibility,” Lesch said.

Problems with sanitary sewers was also a topic at the work session.

Ralph Seward, public works coordinator, told council he and his staff are currently checking 60 homes that drain to the Pleasant Street lift station. After sending out a survey to determine which homeowners use sump pumps, Seward is checking each home to find out if the pumps are connected directly to the sanitary sewer, which is a violation of city ordinances.

“Of the 19 we’ve checked,” he said, “13 sump pumps were going directly to the sanitary sewer.”

He said three homeowners had already fixed the problem after they received a letter from the city saying their sump pumps would be checked. Only three of the 19 had been correctly installed before the city started to investigate, Seward told council.

He said the problem could be fixed for as little as $50 to $60 in materials if the owners did the work themselves. The worst case he saw was one elderly couple that had a complicated situation and Seward said he told them they should be able to get the problem corrected by a contractor for about $200.

Seward said one problem is that people don’t know about the ordinance that prohibits sump pumps from being connected to the sanitary sewer. They hire a firm to waterproof their basement and expect the company to do the work legally.

“They’re drying up people’s basements, but they’re putting the water into the sanitary sewer,” Seward said. Some firms use that as a quick fix to the problem and then leave the homeowners to face the legal consequences, he said.

“It is illegal to hook sump pumps into the sanitary sewer,” Seward said, and suggested the city could come up with a permit process to ensure that contractors follow the city’s laws.

In other business, council:

*** Read a resolution to contract with the Huron County Emergency Management through June 30, 2009.

*** Learned that the Park and Recreation Fund will need $30,800 to add ice guards to both the old and new recreation centers, put on the triathalon and finish paying for new equipment for Bishman Park. Director Ken Leber said the money for the triathalon will be paid back into pard and recreation funds from the proceeds of the event.

*** Learned the city needs to spend more than $8,000 to repair a wash-out by a culvert at Veterans Memorial Lake Park by creating an emergency spillway.

*** Learned that the city faces $10,000 in engineering costs for sewer improvements on Fair Road and Williams Street. Seward estimated the cost of the Williams Street project, which would replace a 10-inch sewer line with a 12-inch line, could be $40,000 to $50,000. He said several people which currently have septic systems on Fair Road are interested in being added to the the city’s sewer system.