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DEFA Helps Christiansburg Finish Sewer Connections in October 2015 — Fixing 30 Years of Sewage Issues

The Village of Christiansburg, located in southwestern Ohio in the Great Miami Watershed, Champaign County, recently finished their final sewer connections. The previously unsewered Village had around 250 households with an annual median household income (MHI) of $34,792. The on-site septic wastewater treatment systems serving local residents were privately owned, with the owners responsible for maintenance, repair and monitoring. Unfortunately, most of the systems did not meet current regulations because of age, small lot size, inadequate soils, or because they discharged directly into storm sewers. 

In the 1980s, the Village completed an engineering study and design of a new sewer system only to discover that the project they envisioned was too expensive to implement. The experience left the Village in financial crisis, frustrated, and reluctant to move forward with any sewer system for the community. Then, during the summer of 2009, the Ohio EPA completed a stream survey of the middle portion of the Great Miami River watershed. The watershed survey revealed that, while the larger watershed was attaining exceptional warmwater habitat status, improperly treated wastewater from the Christiansburg area was creating a public health issue due to Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria in West Fork Honey Creek. Even without these findings, the Village’s leaders knew there was a problem, as residents frequently complained of sewage odors. Then help appeared in the form of an Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water staff member, who urged the Village to begin working with the Agency’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA) to determine what resources might be available to help solve these serious sewage problems. Over the next three years, the Village obtained financial and technical assistance from DEFA for the planning, design, and construction of a new wastewater collection and treatment system. 

The prospect of spending almost $5 million dollars placed a heavy burden on Village leaders to ensure that the result was an efficient and workable sewage system. The Village leaders evaluated numerous options for the sewage treatment system, some tried-and-true and others more unconventional. DEFA staff encouraged the Village to talk with other communities that had implemented the alternatives that were being considered for Christiansburg. DEFA staff also accompanied the Village as local officials investigated a re-circulating textile filter technology that another small community in Ohio was using.

In 2013, Christiansburg qualified for 50% principal forgiveness and a hardship interest rate loan of 0.0% for 20 years from Ohio EPA. This Ohio EPA funding package saved the Village more than $4.1 million when compared with market rate financing, and enabled the community to provide a public sewage treatment system for the community, thereby eliminating the failing on-site systems. As the process of providing sewer service to the community moved forward, the town officials were surprised to discover support from more residents than they had originally anticipated. The new system costs each homeowner a reasonable $60 per month for the operation and maintenance of the system. The last connections to the sewer system were completed in October 2015. Through the dedication of the Village’s leaders and with assistance from DEFA, the public health nuisance to West Fork Honey Creek and the Christiansburg area has been eliminated.

If your community would like to learn more about funding options to address water quality issues in your community, call (614) 644-2798, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and we’ll be glad to talk with you.

 

West Fork Honey Creek near Christiansburg, Ohio