Plan could shape county’s growth


Delaware County’s new sewer master plan is expected to be completed within one year.

Delaware County commissioners on Tuesday discussed the process of developing the document, which could have a major impact on the way in which the county grows in the coming years.

“We’re going to be judged not on today’s decisions, but on the product of those decisions 10 years from now,” said Commissioner Gary Merrell.

The county’s current sewer master plan was adopted in 2005. It was updated in 2008.

The newest update will cost the county $468,000.

In addition to service areas, the updated master plan could drastically alter the way in which the system is paid for.

A proposed uniform $12,000 capacity fee per equivalent residential unit would generate about $272 million by the time the sewer district’s treatment plants reach full capacity.

The proposed change in the fee structure would allow the county to pay for the $225 million worth of capital improvements projects anticipated in the coming years. It would also provide enough revenue to cover the cost of unexpected maintenance issues and unforeseen changes to EPA rules and regulations.

Under the current fee structure – which includes user fees, capacity fees and surcharges – the county is set to generate $165 million in revenue. Capacity fees are only charged to property owners served by the Olentangy Environmental Control Center, the Lower Scioto Water Reclamation Facility and the Alum Creek Water Reclamation Facility. Surcharges vary across the county.

“The old method of being able to fund a sewer system just isn’t going to work anymore,” said Jennifer Frommer of HDR Engineering, the company that will lead the effort to craft the new master plan.

In the coming weeks, officials involved in the crafting of the master plan will meet with stakeholders, including developers, township and village officials, representatives of the agriculture industry and others.

And while the documents will be a guide for further growth in the county, officials says they will still provide some flexibility.

“This has to be a living document,” said Merrell. “It has to change with age.”