to upgrade Cedarville plant
Greene County has taken a first step toward a long term solution to Cedarvilles
overburdened waste water treatment plant, which has been under investigation
by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency since October for polluting
On Christmas Eve, the Greene County commissioners approved a $6.2 million
low-interest loan from the Ohio Division of Environmental and Financial
Assistance to fund a major renovation of the treatment plant, County Administrator
Steve Stapleton said.
The project is expected to take 18 months to complete. In the meantime,
residents who live along the creek downstream from the current plant are
still uncertain of the quality and safety of their wells and of the waters
lapping at the edge of their properties.
Massie Creek runs through Cedarville and Indian Mound Reserve Park before
emptying into the Little Miami River south of Yellow Springs. Ohio EPA
test results from October showed bacteria colony counts taken just downstream
from the sewage plant were 44 times the acceptable level. Ohio EPA officials
believe the problem may have been exacerbated by the increased number
of Cedarville University students adding to the volume of waste water.
Since the investigation began, fecal coliform levels, synonymous with
fecal contamination, in the creek have ranged from 667 colonies per 100
milliliters of water to 110,000 colonies, according to Rick Schran of
the Greene County Sanitary Engineering Lab. The Ohio EPAs acceptable
level is around 1,000 colonies.
Bacteria levels in the creek vary from day to day, depending on the amount
of rainfall and whether or not the university is in session, Stapleton
Sometimes levels are above standard and sometimes theyre below,
he said. The standards are so rigid that even if the water doesnt
meet the standard that doesnt mean the water is unsafe.
Greene County has been working with the Ohio EPAs Compliance Assistance
team in an effort to make the plant more efficient. The plant has taken
steps to help settle the solid waste and also to extract some of the sludge
from the plant by truck.
These measures have not made a major impact, but it did help improve
the quality of the effluent to some extent, Stapleton said.
Pollution in the creek has affected the properties and well water of some
of the residents who live along the creek, including Liz Mersky, who had
her well independently tested several times. Tests have revealed E. Coli
and unacceptable levels of fecal coliform in her water, Mersky said.
No one is providing water for us, and we have a right to have good
water, she said.
According to Mark Isaacson, program manager for water, sewer and solid
waste with the Greene County Combined Health District, the County is not
responsible for providing water for residents because tests have not determined
whether or not the creek is responsible for the contamination of their
It has never been our policy to provide homeowners with water to
drink, he said.
The health department has tested three residential wells downstream of
the plant, Isaacson said. Two of the wells tested positive for coliform
bacteria, and one of them retested positive even after disinfectant measures
were taken, he said.
Mersky has been hauling in her own drinking water and using a borrowed
water tank for the horses she keeps on her property. Her 91-year-old neighbor
has her family members bring in water for baths, Mersky said.
The Friends of Massie Creek citizens action group has met regularly since
October to try to improve the situation. The group submitted a letter
in November to State, County and Cedarville officials requesting they
address public health needs such as public notification signs and public
assistance for clean water and ongoing well testing, Mersky said. To date,
the group has had no response.
Our sense of community needs to enlarge because were not dealing
with little encapsulated towns, this is a wider issue, Mersky said.
This group of people who live along the creek need help.
The health department has posted two pollution warning signs in Indian
Mound Park. One sign is beside the creek just behind the water treatment
plant, and the other is streamside near Tarbox Cemetery Road, Stapleton
said. But there are no signs at the entrance to the park or on the trails.
According to Jim Schneider, assistant director of Greene County Parks
and Recreation, the parks risk management team has advised park
officials to wait for the health department to approve the wording for
the risk factors before more signs are erected.
The health department is waiting for the same thing, Isaacson said.
Were working with the county to improve the situation, but
we cant be 100 percent until the plant is built and on line,
Ohio EPA permits supervisor Richard Shoemaker said. They are operating
as fast as they can, considering it takes time to build a structure of
Greene County commissioners are waiting for construction bid approval
from the Ohio EPA, Stapleton said. A bid should be awarded sometime in
mid-January, and construction could start by late February or March, he