Two years after the Ohio EPA ordered a sewer line for Five Point Road in Wood County's Middleton Township because septic tanks were leaking into ditches, the agency is asking local groups to study some alternative solutions further.
Three water samples taken between Aug. 7 and Sept. 11 by the agency showed unsafe levels of bacteria and chlorine in roadside ditches.
Chlorine levels in the samples taken in the ditches were recorded at 0.84 milligrams per liter - well over the legal maximum of 0.019 - and seemed to contradict the sewage odors noted by EPA staff at the testing sites.
Thus, the test results were "confusing and inconclusive," Ohio EPA director Chris Korleski wrote in a letter to the Northwestern Water and Sewer District last month.
In the letter, Mr. Korleski also emphasized that discussions of possible remedies to the pollution
should include alternatives to sewage improvements.
The sewer district has 90 days to consult with the Wood County Health Department and homeowners before responding to the EPA with a new plan.
That's good news for homeowner Larry Koosed, one of an estimated 100 households who would be billed for the proposed sewer line between Hull Prairie and River roads.
No official costs have been calculated, but homeowners worry construction costs could reach about $100,000 per household, Mr. Koosed said. He and several neighbors faced the Northwestern Water and Sewer District's regular public meeting last week.
"I would love to get off my septic system. Love it. I live along the river. I take it seriously. I want to do the right thing," Mr. Koosed told The Blade after the meeting. "I just think it's unfair that the total cost is for us."
At least 50 residents signed a petition last year opposing a new sewer for Five Point Road, saying the problem was limited to just a few homes.
Several homeowners shared the cost of independent testing in July, and the results supported the theory that about 15 homes in the Shelton Gardens subdivision are to blame for the pollution, Mr. Koosed said.
The need for sewers along Five Point Road is "still undetermined," said state Rep. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green), who has had several conversations with homeowners about the issue.
"I believe the EPA's letter gives us an opportunity to solve the problem without a full-scale sewer mandate," Mr. Gardner said.
Jerry Greiner, executive director of the sewer district, said the project was "a few years off," but that homeowners would be included in future discussions about the project.