Behind-the-scenes work strives to address aging water system

BATAVIA, OH (Sept. 9, 2019) — In today’s world, many take their drinking and cleaning water for granted. You turn on a kitchen faucet, washing machine or garden hose, and water flows. You don’t really think about it.

But there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to ensure Clermont County’s water keeps flowing efficiently. For example, there’s a fairly large project in the county’s 2019-2023 Water and Sewer Capital Improvement plan: the Milford Hills Drive and Brooklyn Avenue Area Water Main Replacement Project.

“This is a very common type of project for our department,” said Ainsley Knapke, a project manager in the Clermont County Water Resources Department. “The pipes are almost 60 years old, and it’s a high pressure area. So they’re more likely to break. We’re replacing the original water mains that were installed in 1959.”

Clermont County Commissioners this summer approved a plan that helps Clermont County continue to proactively address its aging water and sewer system and accommodate for future economic development. Lyle Bloom, director of the Clermont County Water Resources Department, had proposed the department’s 2019-2023 water and sewer capital improvements to the Commissioners.

Water Resources Department capital projects are funded through fees charged to water and sewer customers, as well as state and federal grants. In 2018, Clermont County had the third-lowest combined sewer and water cost in Southwest Ohio in an annual survey conducted by the City of Oakwood. Sixty-three counties and municipalities participated in the survey.

Clermont County’s water distribution system consists of about 808 miles of water main installed since 1954. About 200 miles were installed more than 50 years ago, with some approaching life expectancy of 75 years.

To address the situation, the 2015-2020 strategic plan includes replacement of 20,000 feet per year. In 2019, Water Resources is spending more than $4 million on water construction projects in Miami Township and Goshen Township alone.

The Milford Hills Drive and Brooklyn Avenue Area Water Main Replacement Project, one of several water main replacements in the county scheduled to begin this year, got the go-ahead on July 24. Commissioners awarded the job to Smithcorp, Inc. of Cincinnati, which submitted the lowest and best bid of $768,106.00. Five other firms submitted bids for the work.

The 6-inch cast iron and ductile iron water mains along Milford Hills Drive, Beechwood Lane, Ridgewood Lane, State Route 28, Brooklyn Avenue and Brooklyn Lane were installed in 1959 and 1978. They have reached the end of their useful life, as evidenced by frequent water main breaks, especially within the last five years.

In 2017, the Commissioners executed an agreement with Brandstetter Carroll Inc. of Cincinnati for design of the project. The design includes replacement of about 7,000 feet of existing water main with 6-inch and 8-inch ductile iron water main. Along with the design, behind-the-scenes work such as getting permits and easements also took place.

In May, the Commissioners approved a request to advertise for bids in June, resulting in the winning bid by Smithcorp. A pre-construction meeting took place before work started.

Digging began in mid-August, with the project scheduled for completion by Jan. 31. An inspector from the Water Resources Department visits the site daily.

Before switching services to the new main, Water Resources Department staff will complete pressure and bacteria testing. They’ll wrap up the project by restoring pavement and lawns.

“This project, in conjunction with our 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan, will ensure the preservation and promotion of the public health and welfare and will provide improved water service for the surrounding area for consumption and fire protection,” Knapke said.