People experiencing basement flooding in Pettisville shouldn’t expect relief anytime soon.
New storm sewers in the unincorporated community could take a year, two years, or even longer, said Ziad Musallam, director of the Fulton County Department of Public Utilities.
Musallam laid out the step-by-step procedure for new storm sewers to a crowd of about 40 people who attended a Tuesday, Aug. 19, meeting at Pettisville High School.
Leonard Richer, Clinton Township trustee, and Kenneth “Skip” Leupp, German Township trustee, said there has been an ongoing problem with storm drainage in Pettisville.
A problem both cited is a three-quarter mile long tile that leads west from the south side of Pettisville to Brush Creek.
Over the years, the tile has collapsed in places. Leupp said the two townships take turns repairing it.
In town, tree roots grow through storm sewer tiles, causing them to heave and resulting in reduced or blocked flow.
Years ago, sewers in Pettisville collected storm water and sanitary sewage.
The two systems have since been separated.
Sanitary sewage is treated at a county-operated wastewater treatment plant on the north side of Pettisville.
Richer said some people have plumbed their sump pumps to empty into the sanitary sewer system, which causes problems for the wastewater plant.
The old storm sewers “are being asked to handle a lot of water, and it’s not operating at full capacity by any means,” Leupp said.
“At certain times, certain people get their basements flooded.”
Pettisville is divided between German and Clinton townships by Co. Rd. 19, which is known in Pettisville as Main Street.
Leupp said there have been no complaints of basement flooding on the German Township side.
Richer said on the Clinton Township side, there have been three to four complaints.
Leupp was quick to point out the problem with the Pettisville storm sewers won’t get better with time. It will only get worse, and more, not fewer, basements will flood.
During his presentation, Musallam one of the first things that must be accomplished is the establishment of a storm sewer district by either the Fulton County commissioners or the township trustees.
That’s followed by a survey of the drainage area; but before property owners can be surveyed about their storm water issues, the size of the sewer district and the number of properties impacted must be determined.
As an example, Musallam showed a map of storm water “catchments” which flow into Brush Creek, and eventually, the Tiffin River.
Musallam proposed an area two square miles around Pettisville as the subject of the survey, but Richer disputed that in a later interview.
Richer suggested a storm sewer district covering just Co. Rd. D to the Norfolk- Southern railroad tracks, because he said it is difficult to work with the railroad to build a storm sewer under the tracks.
After the survey results are evaluated, Musallam said a general plan must be developed.
Included would be things like where to locate tiles, whether pumps would be needed, and whether or not storm water must be treated due to pollution.
The board may elect to go with a multi-phase project.
After that, the board must pass a resolution of necessity for the project.
Levied, Not Levied
There are two options for funding storm sewer improvements.
One is the “not levied” approach, in which the storm sewer district board borrows the money to build new storm sewers.
The debt is repaid by billing those who use the system. They are charged both for the cost of paying back the debt and for the cost of operating and maintaining the system.
The not-levied approach does not require public hearings, he said.
The “levied” method is funded by assessing property owners for the work.
Musallam told the crowd the levied method “takes a lot of time. There are a lot of back-and-forth notifications.”
Each notification process has certain time constraints and limits, but provides for public hearings and several appeals processes.
At the Tuesday meeting, Musallam said so far, a storm sewer district has not been established.
How long could it take?
Leupp said six years ago, when he first became a township trustee, Richer discussed the issue of storm sewers in Pettisville.
“Government does not move very fast,” Leupp said.
Richer estimated storm sewers for Pettisville could take one to six years.
“You never know,” he said.
Leupp said if Pettisville had a 21st-century storm sewer infrastructure, the community could possibly attract small manufacturing operations.
He said, “Now we’ve got a (storm sewer) infrastructure from the middle or the beginning of the 20th century.”– David Pugh