September 9, 2019

County experiences two large water main breaks

BATAVIA, OH (Sept. 9, 2019) — Clermont County experienced two big water main breaks this past weekend.  In order to repair both breaks, customers along Behymer Road, Whiteoak Road from Behymer to Merwin Ten Mile, Locust Corner Road west of Behymer, Locust Run Road, Locust Hill Road, and Triple Crown Estates Subdivision experienced interrupted water supply on Sept. 8 and 9.  About 175 homes were without water.

Other customers in Pierce Township, Union Township and Batavia Township may have experienced reduced water pressure and/or discolored water.  We are currently flushing hydrants to help address any discolored water complaints.  There is no boil water advisory.

In order to avoid a very large outage (which would have affected thousands) we implemented our contingency plan, increased water production at the BMW Water Treatment Plant and opened emergency cross connections with Cincinnati Waterworks.

We sincerely apologize for the extended water service interruption.  We also recognize that we need to improve our methods of updating our customers, particularly for extended water service interruptions such as this past weekend.  Moving forward, we plan to train additional staff to perform website updates and rely on the county’s Office of Public Information to post information to social media.

September 9, 2019

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.

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July 25, 2019

County OK’s plan to keep water and sewer systems flowing

BATAVIA, Ohio (July 25, 2019) – Commissioners earlier this month approved a plan that helps Clermont County continue to proactively address an aging water and sewer system and accommodate for future economic development.

Lyle Bloom, director of the Clermont County Water Resources Department, detailed the department’s 2019-2023 water and sewer capital improvements in an earlier meeting.

Clermont County’s water distribution system consists of about 808 miles of water main installed since 1954, Bloom said. 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.

Meanwhile, the county’s wastewater collection system contains about 710 miles of sanitary sewers installed since 1941.

The Water Resources Department’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan calls for an average of 2.84 miles of sanitary sewer rehabilitation per year. This year, Water Resources is spending more than $8 million on wastewater-related construction projects in Batavia Township, Goshen Township, Pierce Township, Tate Township and Union Township.

Additionally, the department will work on the designs for a number of projects slated to begin construction in 2019.

Water Resources Department capital projects are funded through fees charged to water and sewer customers, as well as state and federal grants.

For a complete list of capital improvement projects for 2019-23, please go here: http://wrd.clermontcountyohio.gov/capital-improvement.

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July 2, 2018

Newtonsville sewer project to be redesigned

BATAVIA, Ohio – After receiving extensive feedback from residents of the Village of Newtonsville, Clermont County Commissioners approved a contract on June 25 for the redesign for the village’s sewer and wastewater treatment project. CH2M Engineers, Inc., will redesign the system to provide conventional gravity sewers to all properties that will benefit from the project.

Currently, properties in the Village of Newtonsville have septic systems. In October 2012, residents were notified by Clermont Public Health that a significant number of homes had failing septic systems, and sewage created a health risk. At that time, Public Health recommended public sewer to serve the residents in the project area.

Since then, the Clermont County Water Resources Department has completed extensive engineering fieldwork and project design. A number of public information meetings have been held including a Public Hearing on Sept. 25, 2017, and the fourth Public Informational Meeting on March 13, 2018.

At the March meeting, a majority of the property owners who spoke indicated their support for a full gravity collection system, and not the hybrid collection system that had been presented to them previously. The hybrid collection system included a combination of conventional gravity sewers and STEP (Septic Tank Effluent Pump) to convey wastewater to the proposed wastewater treatment facility.

In surveys conducted following the Public Hearing, a total of 59% of the benefitted property owners responded, and of those a majority supported proceeding with the project. Of that majority, most supported a redesign to a full conventional gravity collection system to serve all properties in the project area.

In a letter sent to residents on June 26, Chris Rowland, P.E., Assistant Sanitary Engineer, noted that the change to a full gravity system would increase the minimum assessment from $190 per front foot of property to $234 per front foot.

The design is scheduled to be completed this fall, and a public hearing is likely to be scheduled in January 2019. Construction could start in early 2020, with sewer connections starting in the spring of 2021.

The Water Resources Department has secured $3 million in grants for this project, and is contributing $1.1 million from wastewater capital improvement funds.

The original project design served approximately 145 property owners and 230 parcels of land in and around the Village of Newtonsville. The exact number of properties to be added as a result of the new design is to be determined.

The redesign contract with CH2M Engineers, Inc., is for $248,457. More information on the project can be found here: https://bit.ly/2N9UNna

June 28, 2018

Water Resources Department on target with capital projects

BATAVIA, Ohio – Lyle Bloom, director of the Clermont County Water Resources Department, detailed the department’s 2018-22 water and sewer capital improvement projects before Commissioners at Session on Monday, June 25. The plan was approved by Commissioners on June 27.

Water Resources replaces an average of 20,000 feet of water main and rehabilitates approximately 15,000 feet of sanitary sewer annually, Bloom said.

In 2018, Water Resources is spending more than $6 million on wastewater-related construction projects in the Village of Bethel, Williamsburg Township, Miami Township, Goshen Township and Pierce Township.

It is spending more than $3 million on water construction projects in Batavia Township, Miami Township, Stonelick Township, and Union Township.

The department will be working on the designs for a number of projects slated to begin construction in 2019.

The Water Resources Department capital projects are funded through the fees charged to its water and sewer customers, as well as some state and federal grants.

For a complete list of capital improvement projects for 2018-22, please go here: http://wrd.clermontcountyohio.gov/capital-improvement.

April 27, 2018

Former employee to repay county for misused funds on credit card

BATAVIA, Ohio (April 27, 2018) — In a Clermont County Common Pleas Court appearance on April 25, Mary Ann Belt, former executive assistant in Water Resources Department (WRD),  agreed to repay Clermont County $10,841.65 for gift cards and other items inappropriately charged to a Lowe’s credit card.

Ms. Belt will also plead guilty to a fifth degree felony theft, according to Assistant County Prosecutor Katie Terpstra. The case has been continued until June 4.

Here is a timeline of events:

Ms. Belt was an executive assistant in the water department in 2016-17. Among her responsibilities was paying some of the water department invoices. Previously, she had worked in customer service in the same department since 2012.

 Water Resources Director Lyle Bloom was notified on Oct. 19, 2017, by Duke Energy that several of the water department’s accounts with Duke were past due. The Clermont County Auditor’s Office had also alerted the water department that a number of late payments had been made to Duke.

Mr. Bloom investigated the past-due bills and found that Clermont County had paid approximately $10,000 in late payment charges over 2016-17 to Duke Energy. These particular accounts were the responsibility of Ms. Belt.

Other vendors she was responsible for were also paid late. Duke Energy was the only vendor that charged a late fee.

Ms. Belt had a disciplinary hearing, and was terminated by the county on Nov. 15, 2017, for failing to discharge her responsibilities correctly.

During this time, the Auditor’s Office and the water department worked together to ensure that all accounts that were past due were paid and that vendors would be paid in a timely manner going forward.

After her termination, Ms. Belt’s emails were forwarded to two other executive assistants in the department who assumed her responsibilities.

They noticed that a county credit card account at Lowe’s that was in Ms. Belt’s name had a number of gift cards on it. Further investigation found that she had opened up online a Lowe’s credit card for herself while she was opening cards for three water treatment employees.

A check of previous statements found that a total of $10,841.65 had been charged to Lowe’s that appeared to be for personal use, including gift cards.

In Clermont County, all spending on credit cards must be approved by a supervisor who sees an invoice. It appeared that Ms. Belt falsified invoices, or put in invoices twice.

Shortly after Ms. Belt was terminated, the county asked the Sheriff’s Office to investigate this matter. The results of the investigation were turned over to the Prosecutor’s Office. Ms. Belt was charged with felony theft and was indicted on Feb. 6, 2018.

Prior to the indictment, the office of the State Auditor began its annual audit of Clermont County. At the time, the office of the County Auditor informed the State Auditor that there was a case under investigation that involved possible misuse of county funds. In a separate meeting, the Auditor and Prosecutor’s Office met with the State Auditor’s representatives on this matter.

Mr. Bloom has instituted new practices in his department. All Lowe’s cards have been pulled. Supervisors must now match the hard-copy invoice to the screen invoice before approving.

In addition, most departments and offices in the county now use procurement cards, which have limits on the kinds of transactions, the number of transactions, and the monetary amount of transactions that can be made.

The investigation involved many county offices – Water Resources, the Office of Management and Budget, the County Auditor, the Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office – who worked diligently to address the matter.

“We took prompt action to terminate Ms. Belt’s employment once we discovered the pattern of late payments,” said County Administrator Tom Eigel. “And as soon as we detected other irregularities, we turned that information over to the Sheriff’s Office.  We’re pleased that Ms. Belt has agreed to pay Clermont County restitution. I am confident that the practices instituted will help prevent a similar issue in the future.”

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April 11, 2018

Water Department launches improved online billing system

BATAVIA, Ohio (April 11, 2018) – Clermont County Water Resources Department has implemented a new online system that allows customers:

  • Access to complete information about their water and/or sewer account
  • To store and  tailor their payment options
  • To sign up for email bills and eliminate the mailed paper bill.

Customers can reach the portal by going to wrd.clermontcountyohio.gov, where they will see it at the top of the page.

Customers can set up their accounts so that text messages alert them to their bills, and they can even pay their bill via a text message, said Sukie Scheetz, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees billing for the Water Resources Department.

Previously, customers could pay online, but that service did not allow customers to see any account information.  Now customers can see their bill, account history, account balance, and due date.  They can also set the bill to be paid automatically from a bank account or credit card, or schedule it to be paid.

First Billing Services charges a lower fee per transaction than the current payment processor, Scheetz noted. Customers will be charged 2% or a minimum of $2.25 per credit card transaction and $1.50 per e-check. That compares to $3.45 and $2 respectively that had been charged.

Customers can still pay by mailing checks or using their bank account to pay their bill via a fund transfer and not incur any extra charge, Scheetz said.

“With this step, customers have more options, and more information about their account,” she said. “Our goal is to make getting and paying your bill as easy as possible.”

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March 16, 2018

Clermont County holding open houses in April – public is invited

BATAVIA, Ohio – Interested in learning more about county government? Have you ever seen a K-9 team in action? Do you want to find out more about the county’s Opiate Task Force? If so, please join us in April during National County Government Month.

Clermont County will hold several open houses and activities during the month.

The public is invited and is asked to register at https://clermontcountyohio.gov//national-county-government-month or call Kathleen Williams at 513.732.7597, or email her at kwilliams@clermontcountyohio.gov.

Saturday, April 7

Celebrate the outdoors at Sycamore Park

10 a.m.-noon: Nest Fest at Sycamore Park. Learn how to identify bird eggs and nests, use your “owl eyes” for our egg hunt and meet birds of prey up close thanks to our friends at RAPTOR Inc.

Address: 4082 SR 132, Batavia

Meet your new pet

1-2 p.m.: Meet the folks at the Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society animal shelter, 4025 Filager Road, Batavia. The new managers of the animal shelter will talk about their philosophy and initiatives. You can also meet the dogs and cats available for adoption.

Address: 4025 Filager Road, Batavia

Thursday, April 12

Celebrating successes in the opiate epidemic fight

2-3:30 p.m.: Join Clermont County’s Opiate Task Force as it celebrates Ohio’s ‘A Week of Appreciation, Batavia Township Community Center. Learn more about the task force’s accomplishments, initiatives and resources as it thanks those who have been on the front lines of fighting this epidemic. Light refreshments.

Address: Batavia Township Community Center, 1535 Clough Pike, Batavia

Saturday, April 14

Rendezvous on the River

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.:  Help the Clermont County Park District celebrate spring and National County Government Month with the season-opening event at Chilo Lock 34 Park. We’ll have food, fun and special guests on every floor of the Visitors Center from noon to 3 p.m.  Enjoy the playground, hike the trails and watch the mighty Ohio River from the boat ramp or the observation deck all day long.

Address:  521 County Park Road, Chilo (off U.S. 52)

Thursday, April 19

Ensuring public health

2-3 p.m.: Public Health is more than just flu shots. Visit your Public Health officials at the Clermont County Public Health Nursing Division to see what it takes to protect the health of Clermont County and its residents.

Birth certificates, flu shots, septic system inspections, plumbing permits, restaurant inspections, WIC, free car seats for needy families, and reducing drug overdoses in the community are just a few of the things that Public Health does. Stop by for an open house and talk to your public health department.

Address:  2400 Clermont Center Drive, Suite 200, Batavia

Enforcing laws & protecting citizens

6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.:  Tour the Sheriff’s Office. See the Crime Lab. In the parking lot, see a demonstration by the K-9 unit, and the Special Response Team – including a robot used in dangerous situations.

Address: 4470 SR 222, Batavia – please park in adjacent Municipal Court parking lot

Saturday, April 21

Spring Litter Clean-Up

This annual volunteer event is held in communities throughout Clermont County. Appreciate our county’s beauty? Volunteer to be part of this countywide event – whether in cities, townships and villages, along the Little Miami and East Fork, or at East Fork State Park. Find out more information here: https://www.springlittercleanup.com/. #GreenClermont

Tuesday, April 24

Protecting our water & environment

10-11:30 a.m.: Tour the Bob McEwen Water Treatment Plant and learn how water from Harsha Lake becomes drinking water. And learn more about how we are protecting our watershed from the Office of Environmental Quality and Soil & Water Conservation District. #GreenClermont

Address: 3960 Greenbriar Road, Batavia

Disability awareness

4-6 p.m.:  Learn about services offered by the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities, as well as other agencies in the Tri-State area that serve children and adults with disabilities.  Members of the Clermont County Voices self-advocacy group will be available to give facility tours and answer questions about the challenges they have faced in their everyday lives.

Address:  2040 US Highway 50, Batavia

#LeadingTheWay
#CountiesMatter

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March 2, 2018

Public meeting set for March 13 on Newtonsville wastewater project

BATAVIA, Ohio (March 2, 2018) — A public information meeting on the proposed Newtonsville wastewater system and treatment plant will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, at CNE High School, 5327 Hutchinson Rd, Batavia.  Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Newtonsville property owners are invited to attend and participate.

The Clermont County Water Resources Department and Clermont County Public Health will present information and answer questions regarding the need for a wastewater system and treatment plant. County Commissioners will listen to comments from property owners both for and against the project.

Currently, properties in the Village of Newtonsville have septic systems. The project will serve 145 property owners and 230 parcels of land in and around the village. In October 2012, residents were notified by Clermont Public Health that a significant number of homes had failing septic systems, and sewage created a health risk. At that time, Public Health said that a centralized sewer system and wastewater treatment plant were needed.

Since then, the Clermont County Water Resources Department  has completed extensive engineering fieldwork and project design. A number of public information meetings have been held, as well as a public hearing. Letters have been sent to property owners to gather their input on alternative plans. The design of the system and wastewater plant, which is proposed to be built on vacant land behind the village administration building, has been completed. The treatment plant is designed to treat up to 57,000 gallons a day.

The total cost of the Newtonsville Collection System Assessment Project and the Newtonsville Wastewater Treatment Plant Project is estimated to be nearly $8.2 million. Grants will defray a portion of the cost. The project has been awarded a $2 million grant from USDA Rural Development, and a $1 million grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission. The county will contribute $1.1 million from wastewater capital improvement funds. Property owners will be assessed for the balance, with a 40-year loan at an interest rate of 2.25%. The estimated assessment is $189.93 per frontage foot of property over the 40 years, said WRD Director Lyle Bloom.

More about the project can be found here.

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January 31, 2018

Major sewer project to start in Bethel

BATAVIA, Ohio (Jan. 31, 2018) –A major sewer replacement project is scheduled to begin in February in Bethel neighborhoods that are primarily south of State Route 125.

Today, Commissioners approved a bid of $1.5 million from Howell Contractors of Fort Wright, Ky., to construct the Bethel Area Sewer Replacement Project.

This project will replace approximately 5,600 linear feet of sanitary sewer main along portions of Ash Street, Easter Road, Osborne Street, West Plane Street, and West Street within the Village of Bethel, said Lyle Bloom, Director of the Water Resources Department. Construction is expected to start in February and be completed a year later.

The old sewers were installed in 1941, and are nearing the end of their useful life, Bloom said. The new sewer lines will be larger, allowing for more capacity.

Planning on this project began in 2014, Bloom said. The project is being funded through the Water Department’s capital fund and a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission.

Contractors will notify residents of any minor disruptions, Bloom said.

Details can be found here.

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