PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - Ottawa County and South Bass Island officials say the planned extension of municipal water service to the island's west side will help solve health and safety concerns for businesses, residents, and tourists.
The project, they agree, wouldn't be possible without a $1 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday on the island by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).
"There's no doubt about it, this is a major step that has to be taken to provide drinking water throughout the island," said Matthew Miller, a Put-in-Bay Township trustee. "Everybody's very grateful that Marcy Kaptur came up with this funding. ... The project couldn't be done otherwise without creating financial hardship on the businesses and the residents."
The grant to the Put-in-Bay Township Port Authority, which operates the island's airport, will cover more than 40 percent of the project's estimated $2.4 million cost, said John Papcun, an Ottawa County commissioner. A required $50,000 local match is being discussed by the township and the port authority.
The remainder of the cost will be covered through assessments on property owners along the expansion's route, including about 10 businesses that were ordered to stop using well water last summer after an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness sickened 1,450 island visitors.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency concluded that widespread groundwater contamination was the likely cause of the outbreak, which resulted in a sharp drop in tourism on the island late last summer.
"It is extremely important for every business on the island to have the potable water from the village," said Monica Drake, executive director of the port authority.
Mr. Papcun said the expansion will be done as a "loop" starting at the village water treatment plant and running southwest along Langram Road to Meechen Road, then proceeding northwest to Catawba Avenue and running northeast to the area near the Heineman Winery, where a waterline extension was completed earlier this year.
A spur running southwest from the corner of Langram and Meechen will serve the airport. A water tower will be built on Thompson Road to help maintain pressure in the system in case of leaks, Mr. Papcun said.
The water main will include 8-inch and 12-inch sections that can accommodate feeder lines, eventually extending water service from the village of Put-in-Bay to all property owners west of town, Mr. Papcun said.
The village spent $400,000 this spring to expand the capacity of its water treatment plant from 290,000 to 438,000 gallons a day.
Put-in-Bay and county officials also agreed on a $5.2 million plan, which includes the waterline extension, that eventually will boost daily capacity to 743,000 gallons. That would be enough to serve the entire island.
"We'll be able to move forward without running out of water on some of the bigger weekends," Mr. Miller said.
The port authority will use the federal funds to dig the trench needed for the waterlines, while the county likely will borrow money to pay for the pipe installation, Mr. Papcun said. One contractor will be hired to do all of the work, but the federal and local funds will be administered separately.
Mr. Papcun said the project's timetable calls for engineering work to begin this summer, for a contractor to be hired next spring, and for construction to be started next summer and completed within a year.
"That's pretty fast for a water or sewer project," he said.