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Published: Wednesday, 8/11/2010

Lucas County bills Toledo $270,000 for damage


Lucas County is presenting the city of Toledo with a bill for $270,000 for damage done to records and equipment in the basement of a county building on Jefferson Avenue from four sewage overflows during the last month.

The overflows occurred when heavy rainfall overwhelmed pumps installed as part of a project to replace Toledo's oldest sewer, under Jefferson.

County Commission President Peter Gerken said permanent records belonging to the Court of Common Pleas were damaged.

"Because they didn't have auxiliary pumps, it caused a backup into our basement," Mr. Gerken said, referring to the Correctional Treatment Facility at 1100 Jefferson. "This has been the biggest disaster of a sewer project ever."

Mr. Gerken, a former city councilman, said the more-than-century-old sewer line had become entwined over the years with other utilities, such as phone lines and abandoned electrical lines.

John Zeitler, director of management and budget for Lucas

County, said the damaged records have to be sanitized and microfilmed.

The combined sanitary and storm water overflows occurred four times in July, starting July 22.

Steve Herwat, deputy Toledo mayor, confirmed that the sewer reconstruction is problematic because of the age and condition of the brick-lined pipe. He said he forwarded the county's claims to the city law director.

Mr. Herwat said the overflow contained raw sewage but that it was primarily storm water. And he said there is a question of whether the pumps failed to activate, malfunctioned, or just couldn't handle the volume of water. He said water backed up in several other basements in the vicinity, but he has received no bills for damages from them.

The city is replacing a sewer that was installed in 1869 and that was in danger of causing Jefferson to cave in, Mr. Herwat said. Officials are hopeful that the project will be completed in about two weeks.

The price tag to replace sewer lines from Michigan to 11th street is $1.6 million, including new curbs and pavement for Jefferson, and replacing a 400-foot section of sewer on Woodruff Street. The money comes from the city's capital improvements budget.

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