MOUNT VERNON — Wastewater will be in the news in coming months as the Knox County Commissioners work to find ways to meet stringent Environmental Protection Agency regulations. One tack will be for the commissioners to attend the national meeting of county commissioners in Washington, D.C., in March. There, the commissioners will lobby Democratic Rep. Zack Space and Republican Sen. George Voinovich for funding to support the hamlet wastewater treatment plan which has been in development the past two years.
The commissioners met Monday with Ron Simpson and Jason Figgins of the Water and Sewer Department about these projects, focusing on installing sewer service for Millwood. Millwood is proposed, along with Mount Liberty and Bladensburg, as a site for a sewage treatment facility. Commissioner Allen Stockberger said that at the commissioners’ request, Assistant Prosecutor Charles McConville has determined that if the local health department deems service to a community to be necessary, the land for the right of way for the wastewater pipes can be seized by eminent domain. Stockberger said this option has to be considered at this point because the railroad which owns the right of way has been unresponsive.
Commissioner Robert Wise said the Knox County Health Department has clearly stated this to be the case, so further developments in this direction are probable, if funding can be secured.
Stockberger also said “greening” initiatives should be considered and implemented for future growth and maintenance of the county wastewater treatment system. His suggestions included small-scale actions, such as replacing traditional bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which last longer but use only a portion of the energy that incandescent bulbs take. Stockberger also said he and Wise had toured a facility which used a bubbling system to aerate wastewater being treated in the plant. This method is likely to save energy over using a mechanical agitation bar.
Simpson and Figgins suggested making it part of a three-year plan to upgrade existing facilities. In the first year, the permit to install could be obtained while other work was being done to increase outfall filtration and disinfection rates with the use of ultraviolet light instead of chemicals. In the second year, the aeration system would be overhauled, and it would go into full operation during the third year.
Discussion also took place about recent problems with frozen water pipes in Apple Valley. Simpson said many people try to leave their water on, with the internal house thermostat turned down to 45 or 50 degrees when they travel south for the winter. Simpson said these temperatures are not adequate when the area is hit by a major cold spike, such as the one which recently dropped temperatures into the vicinity of minus 20 degrees. He said the water department will turn water off and back on at no charge for vacationing residents.