UPDATE: Washington County Responds To "Non-Compliance" Charges

By: Rachele Mongiovi ,Danielle Staub, Todd Baucher Email
By: Rachele Mongiovi ,Danielle Staub, Todd Baucher Email
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Washington County makes its own counter-charges to claims it is in non-compliance with water and sewer agreements.

MGN Online

Update: 8/27/2015 4:40 P.M.

In the case of Washington County and Devola residents versus the city of Marietta and the Ohio EPA: county officials respond to both agencies in an ongoing fight over a community's disposal system.

The response comes in the form of letters sent by Assistant County Prosecutor Nicole Tipton Coil to the two agencies.

It all has to do with the county's compliance with an agreement with the city, and mandates by the state.

Washington County says it is unclear to what obligations have been breached, from an agreement reached with Marietta in 2011.

It states, furthermore, the city also has obligations from that agreement it has yet to comply with. Those include an agreement-which has not been fulfilled-to extend sanitary sewer service to both the communities of Devola and Oak Grove.

It's all a matter, some believe, that might have to be resolved in court.

"I would hope there isn't a lengthy battle in the courts. Nobody wants that to happen," says Commission President David White. "But we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to make sure the citizens of Washington County are well-represented and well taken care of and not being taken advantage of."

The letter to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency characterizes as outdated test results for nitrates in Devola's drinking water supply.
it asks the OEPA for new tests.

County leaders say the state EPA has mandated the residential septic tanks be replaced with a community-wide sewer system-something many Devola residents oppose.

The letter to the state mentions a financial burden to Devola residents from replacing the septic system with a sewer system.

Update: 8/19/2015 4:50 P.M.

Four years ago, the city of Marietta entered into an agreement with Washington County for sewer services to the communities of Devola and Oak Grove.

But the city says the county isn't living up to it.

And that meeting attracted several Devola residents, who would rather the commission do nothing at all.

The city charges the county hasn't fully implemented the agreement, particularly in terms of establishing a public sewer system in Devola.

In spite of complaints the meeting wasn't held at a convenient time, people who have spoken out at previous public meetings turned out to state emphatically they're happy with their existing septic tank disposal systems.

"We have no rights as far as you're concerned,"" resident Robert Vernon said, addressing city officials in attendance, "and yet you have every right to tell us how much we should pay for your sewer system."

"(The county commission) should have been going out getting cost estimates, to tell you what it might cost," said Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews. "Why did they not go out and look for estimates, on what that would be for each individual person."

The commissioners stated the upgrades are mandated by the Ohio EPA.

While expressing concern about individual property rights, commissioner ron feathers said the county is working with the EPA to determine what areas need the sewer upgrades the most.

The two governments discussed seeking a meeting with the state EPA to determine what's next.

UPDATE 1/20/2015 11:15 PM

The residents of Devola are facing a problem that's bigger than just drinking water. A while back, Devola's water had a nitrate test level over 10 and they fixed it with reverse osmosis.

The residents have septic tanks, but the city of Marietta wants Devola to be sewered in with the town and some surrounding areas.

The people of Devola are trying every avenue to prevent this from happening. They say 238 homes out of 320 signed a statement saying they are against the Devola sewer.

The biggest issue is the cost. An estimated $18,000 could be added to their monthly expenses and this could have the residents selling their homes and moving out of Devola.

"Our main concern is how are we going to pay for this? I don't have this kind of money and you know it's scaring the residents of this area, we're petrified over this," says a Devola resident.

Homeowners have tried to talk this out with the Washington County Commissioners, but little has been done.

The Washington County Board of Health found no health problem as a result of septic tanks.

UPDATE 8/28/2014 4:30 PM

The entire community of Devola could soon have a sewer system.

It's just a matter of whether that happens gradually or all at once.

The Washington County Commissioners Thursday discussed funding options for the system with a bonding consultant.

The county was ordered two years ago to provide service to the entire community.

The commission would like that to take place in phases.

The commissioners are awaiting a ruling on its plan by the Ohio EPA.

In the meantime, they're considering options to pay for the project, ranging from federal grants to selling bonds.

A huge turn out Tuesday night at the Devola fire house for an informational meeting about a sewer system.

It's a big project for Devola and big decisions need to be made.

The Washington County Commissioners say they're working with the EPA to try and slow down the process of the Devola phase two project.

People had many questions but right now commissioners say people just need to get their septic systems tested.

All of the plans and money to further the additions and expansion of the Marietta plant are still in tact.

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