Bergholz water line delay draws worries

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday heard complaints about delays in a water line project in Bergholz.

Rick Byers of Bergholz said a temporary water line was installed above ground in the spring, but a permanent line hasn’t been completed. He said he is concerned upcoming freezing temperatures could leave homes without water.

Michael Eroshevich, county water and sewer department director, apologized to the Bergholz residents at the meeting, saying the line was supposed to have been completed in July, but unforeseen delays, including equipment breakdowns and water leaks throughout the county system, caused the project to remain unfinished.

The Star Hill area of Bergholz originally had a 1.5-inch water line installed decades ago by a private contractor. The county took over the Bergholz water system and inherited the small line. The owners of the 14 homes on the line have been complaining for years about low water pressure or sometimes no water.

Eroshevich noted the county is installing 3,500 feet of a 6-inch line with a pressure booster. The area is at the same elevation as the town’s water tank, resulting in low water pressure.

Eroshevich said work should be completed in the next several weeks, with restoration work being done in the spring.

Commissioner David Maple said the project needs to be completed, and Commissioner Thomas Graham told Eroshevich to hire a private contractor to finish the job if county crews can’t complete the work.

In other matters, commissioners agreed to allow the county water and sewer system to install an in-line pressure booster for the Sunshine Park area outside Mingo Junction at a cost of about $20,000. Residents have been complaining about lower water pressure since the county stopped using Steubenville water and switched to a Mingo Junction booster station. Eroshevich noted the booster will provide adequate pressure to the homes.

He said a pressure regulator will be installed at the connection to the Steubenville system to ensure adequate water flow for fire protection.

Eroshevich said the county water system has sold an additional 65.3 million gallons of water for the oil and gas industry this year. As a result, the county will realize an additional $300,000 in water revenue this year.

Commissioners approved five road-maintenance agreements between the county engineer department and Ascent Resources — Utica for four new wells in the southern part of the county. Ascent will make improvements to county Road 5 in Mount Pleasant Township, Smithfield Township Roads 192 and 120 and Mount Pleasant Township Road 107A, said county Engineer James Branagan.

Gas drilling companies have made more than $20 million in improvements to county and township roads in the past several years, Branagan said.

In other business, commissioners signed a grant application on behalf of the county regional planning commission to install new audio/video equipment in the community room at the Towers.

Martin Sohovich, regional planning commission director, said he is applying for a $5,000 grant through the Richard and Arline Landers Foundation of Mansfield to help pay for the overall cost of $102,000 for the equipment. He said he has now submitted 16 grant applications for the project.