NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Major upgrades to the City of Niles Wastewater Treatment Plant are in the works, with construction expected to be completed by 2018.
The improvements are estimated around $30 million, with all but one of the buildings getting an upgrade over the next two years. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said the project will improve water quality in the Mahoning River.
Wastewater Superintendent Andy Catanzarite walked WKBN through the plant.
He said a bigger air supply is necessary to support the bacteria that cleans the water. New equipment to separate solids from the water returned the Mahoning River will be used.
The new Wastewater Treatment Plant is funded by the taxpayers.
“The rate increases are being made up by tax increases,” Cantanzarite said. “They’ve been publicized for years. We have four 15 percent increase rates over the years, four 10s and four 5s.”
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required the city to update the facilities, saying the old equipment is antiquated. Currently, the design can handle 13 million gallons of wastewater a day, but the EPA is requiring the plant to handle 20 million gallons a day.
The project is part of Ohio EPA’s efforts to help wastewater systems reduce the levels of phosphorus and other discharged pollutants that can contribute to harmful algal blooms (HABs).
The new equipment at the City of Niles Wastewater Treatment Plant is expected to last for the next 25 years, but Cantazarite said depending on maintenance, that could stretch to 40 years.
The city is looking for federal aid to help fund the project. If relief is found, Catanzarite said the sewage rates could be dropped sooner than expected.
The project is expected to be complete in about three years, according to the EPA.