Belmont County receives $3.3M loan for water, sewer projects

Rick Stillion
Barnesville Enterprise

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Water and sewer projects in Belmont County are moving forward including receipt of a $3.3 million loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority for upgrades at the Fox Shannon Waste Water Treatment Plant.

The 30-year loan with a 1% interest rate will fund work to address National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit violations. The upgrades will include new screening, grit removal, flow equalization, pumping, oxidation ditch improvements, upgraded solids handling, and an additional clarifier.

The work is part of an estimated $12 million in sewer projects and $60 million in water projects on the county’s existing system.

JP Dutton

“It will be nice to finally see dirt moving in Belmont County,” said Commissioner J.P. Dutton of the planned project. “It’s exciting.”

The county has been under guidance from the United States Environmental Project Agency for several years.

“These are long overdue upgrades at the Fox Shannon facility,” Dutton said. “These are needed upgrades and the loan will allow us to complete the work to move forward with the county’s sewer operations.”

Belmont County officials partnered with the USDA several years ago to obtain the largest funding package in the state’s history. The funding includes 25% grants and 75% in loans with a 40-year fixed rate below 2% interest.

“That is a humongous cost saving for the county,” said Dutton.

The largest project in the water package will be the construction of a new treatment plant along the Ohio River near Bellaire at a cost to exceed $20 million. The location for the new plant was chosen due to the proximity to the wells that provide the county’s water supply.

The second-largest project will be the upgrade of the water line extending to the west end of the county.

“Right now, we are limited by how much water we can supply to that portion of the county,” said Dutton.

County officials hope the improvements will allow them to access pockets in the county where there is no reliable water supply. A portion of the current water treatment plant will be used in the distribution system for the new plant.

The low-interest loan for Belmont County was part of $38 million in loans and grants awarded by the Ohio Water Development Authority in January to improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure while also making water quality improvements for Ohioans.

Of the 14 awarded projects, seven projects received an average interest rate of 1.35% for 5 to 20 years, five projects received an average interest rate of 1.5% for 30 years and two projects qualified to receive 0% grants.

Additional information regarding OWDA’s financing programs is available at owda.org.