Brilliant water plant gains support

STEUBENVILLE –Michael Eroshevich, Jefferson County Water and Sewer Department director, recommended to the county commissioners on Thursday that the board sign a grant application on behalf of the Brilliant Water and Sewer District to build a new water treatment plant.

Commissioners have been weighing whether to sign the $500,000 Community Development Block Grant application on behalf of Brilliant.

All three commissioners said they will support the grant application, but Commissioner Tom Gentile said he believes Brilliant is making a mistake going forward with the new water treatment plant because it could burden Brilliant water customers in the future. Commissioner David Maple said he doesn’t want to see a negative impact on Brilliant customers by not signing the grant application.

The county has about five years left on a contract to buy water from Brilliant to feed the south end of the county’s system.

Brilliant has three wells but only one has state approval to operate. The other two would be permitted if Brilliant builds a treatment plant.

Eroshevich, in his analysis, said the proposed treatment plant would give Brilliant a backup if the existing well, drilled in the 1940s, would fail or become contaminated. Brilliant has 672 customers. He noted the county would be under no financial obligation if the commissioners sign the CDBG grant on behalf of Brilliant.

Eroshevich studied the possibility of the county purchasing Mingo Junction’s water plant and distribution system. The county could tie into the village’s water system to supply water to the county’s south end but it would cost more than $3 million. The county in the past couple of years built a booster station outside Brilliant. Eroshevich said connecting to Mingo Junction would leave the new booster station out of service, with the county still having to pay a loan on it.

The new Brilliant plant is estimated to cost $3 million.

Eroshevich recommended the county negotiate with Brilliant on a long-term water-supply contract.

Mike Nichols, Brilliant water and sewer district president, said its customers are paying an $11 surcharge on the sewer plant, which has been paid off. The surcharge would be used for the new water plant. He noted the county won’t pay more for water because of the new plant.

Nichols had informed the commissioners that Brilliant would go forward with the new plant, with or without the commissioners signing the CDBG grant. Nichols said the water district is assuming the county eventually will purchase the Mingo Junction water system.

If the county would purchase the Mingo Junction water system, Eroshevich said village residents would have a lower rate. He said the village is struggling to operate the plant and make annual loan payments. He added the county may be forced to take over Mingo Junction’s water plant and distribution system if the village can’t continue to operate it. That would leave the county with a plant that can’t supply water to county customers without spending millions to connect the two systems, he said.

Commissioners said they will sign CDBG paperwork for Brilliant at next week’s meeting.

In other matters, commissioners signed a resolution urging the state to cover the loss of $1.7 million in Medicaid taxes to the county come next year. The federal government informed the state it no longer could impose sales tax on the Medicaid services.

Commissioner Thomas Graham said the state has to come up with a solution for the loss of funding.

Commissioners also:

¯ Agreed to allow the county’s engineer’s department to hire Zapor Architects Group of Steubenville to design a small office building in Irondale. The architect’s fee would be $7,500. County Engineer James Branagan said there currently is a trailer for drivers to use for breaks, and it is in bad shape.

¯ Were informed by the county regional airport authority that David Wadsworth has declined to accept the position of airport manager because of “uncontrollable personal circumstances.” Gentile said the airport authority will continue to search for an airport manager.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@heraldstaronline.com.)

COMMENTS