Delaware County’s sanitary sewer master plan, a document deemed essential to future development, may be completed in July.
Phase one of the plan was completed by Columbus-based engineering firm HDR Inc., last November with a 90-page technical memorandum. County commissioners were given a second memorandum, only 15 pages long, at its meeting on Thursday.
“The purpose of Technical Memorandum No. 2 is to identify key, fundamental technical assumptions, planning and modeling criteria that will be used to evaluate the condition and capacity of the current system, and identifies improvements needed to support planned growth,” states the introduction.
“We’re squarely in the middle of it,” said Jennifer Frommer, HDR vice president, regarding the master plan. “In the next 60 days, things will get interesting.”
Among the findings from the presentation were that there are nearly 40,000 acres of land in the county that could be developed, Frommer said. HDR was going to identify future service areas and growth corridors in the county for 5-, 10- and 20-year scenarios.
Other variables Frommer said that were in the county’s favor included its regulatory history and finances: cash on hand, debt ratios, operating expenses.
The Delaware County Regional Sewer District “receives most of its annual revenue from user rates and charges which are dependent on the number of customers on the system and the annual growth rate,” said the first memorandum. “Growth has slowed dramatically from the levels seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s; however, an annual customer growth rate of 1.5 to 2 percent continues to account for significant revenue from capacity charges and future projected user charges.”
HDR is also assessing the existing system’s capacity and condition, a process that should be completed in a month. Frommer told commissioners “your system is generally newer than the city’s.”
In May, HDR will present recommendations for future service areas, modeling for system maintenance and upgrades, as well as a financial and affordability analysis.
The analysis “will provide the county commissioners and their staff with a range of cost scenarios that will guide future decision-making,” said a statement issued by the commissioners’ office.
At the end of the presentation, commissioners said they would withhold their questions for now.
“This whole process is so important for this county and how we develop,” said Commissioner Gary Merrell. “We want to get this right.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.