MOUNT VERNON — Officials from the Ohio Scenic Rivers Commission and
the Ohio Department of Natural Resources met with the Knox County Commissioners
Thursday to review plans for a problem spot on the planned wastewater force-main
line running from Millwood to Howard to extend sewer service to the unincorporated
hamlet. According to previous complaints by the Ohio Environmental Protection
Agency and the Knox County Health Department, sewer service was needed to stop
pollution into the Kokosing River by aging, failing leach beds in Millwood.
The trouble spot, just west of Engel’s Curve, comes where U.S. 36 and the Kokosing River nearly meet. After the railroad was removed, the river began eating its way northward at the bend in the river closest to the highway. At some undocumented time in the 1990s, the Ohio Department of Transportation installed a wall of precast concrete panels to retard further erosion of the bank. When the commissioners visited residents who were opposed to the sewer line, property owner Carolin Hahnemann pointed out that the bank was caving in, and would surely offer insufficient stability for a sewer line. Though the concrete wall has slowed erosion, the bank is beginning to collapse behind the wall, suggesting that either the current is partially undermining the wall, or that there is a break or leak in a storm water drainage pipe which crosses beneath U.S. 36 at the same place, or possibly a combination of that.
Commissioner Allen Stockberger said that since the county has purchased the old railroad right of way which overlaps the highway right of way at this point, ODOT deferred to the county to fix it. Stockberger proposed filling in the hole with coarse rip-rap.
Bob Cable of ODNR said that the stability of the wall and bank could be a problem down the road for the force main. Jeffrey Carr of ADR & Associates of Newark said that they were planning on having a contractor bore through the ground with a directional bore instead of digging a trench, which might destabilize the slope further. He proposed using welded high-density polyethylene DR-11 or even DR-9 pipe, which could hang suspended in the air for a time even if the entire bank disappeared into the river.
Cable said the choice of pipe was good, but that he was concerned with what the contractor’s “frac-out contingency plan” would be. A frac-out is encountered when an underground bore, lubricated by highly pressurized bentonite clay fluid, hits a fracture in the bedrock, or a patch of loosely packed gravel. The sudden lack of resistance can send the pressurized fluid spewing out into the environment. Cable said that in the case of the river, the fluid can go into the river, settle out and kill fish and fish eggs.
Carr asked if trenching the line would be better for this reason. Cable said that was a good question, but that it was impossible to determine beforehand, as even core samples won’t show what all might be mixed in at that spot.
Natalie Pirvu of the Ohio Scenic Rivers Commission said that she had been contacted with concerns by Hahnemann, and that she wanted to make sure that the tricky spot is handled carefully and correctly. Pirvu and Cable outlined procedural requirements for the project to meet with their regulations.
In the end, though, Pirvu said that OSRC was excited about the waste water project, because of its benefit to Millwood and to the river itself.
“To get those people off those failing septic systems is a huge accomplishment,” Pirvu said.
Carr also updated the commissioners on the right-of-way easements needed for the initial hamlets projects to begin. Six are still needed in Millwood, while nine are still outstanding in Bladensburg. The commissioners traveled to Bladensburg in the afternoon in order to discuss compensation for siting of the waste water plant with the Claggett family.
In other business, the commissioners opened bids for bridge work on County Road 73. The county engineer’s estimate was $286,357. The lowest bid came in from McConnell Contracting of West Lafayette, at $249,600. Second was Shaw and Holter of Lancaster at $254,518, followed by Crawford Construction of Galion ($293,650), Rietschlin Construction of Crestline ($310,049) and V. O. Menuez and Son of Millersburg ($321,555).