By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
For a decade now, the community of Sugar Ridge has been on the Ohio EPA’s clean up list.
In 2007, the Wood County Health District got a report of a sewage nuisance in the unincorporated village located north of Bowling Green. The EPA took over sampling and “deemed it a sewage nuisance,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health District.
The area was ordered to connect to a public sewer system.
But that proved to be easier said than done.
The Northwestern Water and Sewer District conducted a feasibility study to find out how to make it affordable to hook up the homes to public sewer.
“They found it was very costly to build the sewer” – too expensive for the average homeowners in Sugar Ridge, Glore said last week.
The project recently came onto the health district’s radar again when a concerned citizen reported that a resident of the Sugar Ridge area was trying to install a new sewer without approval, on Long Street.
Upon inspection, Glore found that the resident was actually trying to fix a drainage system. She also found serious ground water drainage issues that could be affecting the septic systems. Residents in the area were advised to pump their septic tanks more often and lessen their water usage if possible.
Worsening the situations is a plugged ditch along Sugar Ridge Road. Middleton Township officials are looking at how that ditch may be cleaned to allow for proper drainage, Glore said.
The bad news is the septic systems are not sufficiently handling the sewage. But the good news is that the residents’ water sources seem to not be affected, Glore said. Results from homeowners who had their water sampled showed that the wells have casings high enough to not be contaminated.
“Those fortunately look OK at this point,” she said.
So the next step seems to be revisiting the feasibility of the project. Jerry Greiner, executive director of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, said getting sewer to Sugar Ridge is estimated to cost $1.3 million.
There are about 63 homes that could be connected to the system, with 43 of those in the community of Sugar Ridge. Depending on how the project is financed and how many people hook into it, the cost per household could be about $160 to $170 a month.
“That’s an incredible cost,” Greiner said.
Grant funding is likely available for the project, however, the Northwestern Water and Sewer District staff was unable to get people of the community to fill out the necessary financial forms.
“We couldn’t get the people to cooperate to do that,” Greiner said. “We’ve been struggling for a couple years to get this going.”
The Sugar Ridge community is split by Middleton and Center townships. The statistics available for Middleton Township show a median household income of $88,311, one of the highest among the county’s townships. The data on Center Township shows a median household income of $64,500.
Greiner suspects the household incomes in the Sugar Ridge area are even lower – which would help the district secure more grant funding for the project – which would make the project more affordable for residents.
“That’s what stalled us in finding grant monies,” he said.
To find the best solution to the problem, Glore said a meeting will be held soon with officials from the Ohio EPA, the water and sewer district, the health district, and both townships involved.