Millions in funding to help repair city’s critical infrastructure

Ohio

PORTSMOUTH, OHIO (WOWK) — On the agenda for the city council in Portsmouth is a discussion on how to allocate some big funds to projects local officials say need attending to.

Portsmouth is set to receive millions of dollars in federal money from the American Rescue and Recovery Act to put towards improving infrastructure.

City officials say there are some improvements that are long overdue.

“With the city situations there’s always more problems than there is money,” says Randy Nickles, director of wastewater for the City of Portsmouth.

With the recent cash infusion of more than two million in federal funding, it’s up to the city council to decide which problems to tackle first.

“We’ve had a meeting with our wastewater personnel, we found out that there’s some issues that need to be addressed down there. And, we weren’t really thinking about those until some things have come to light just looking at the issues,” says Sam Sutherland, city manager for Portsmouth.

A main issue there, Nickles says, is with a decades-old piece of crucial equipment.

“The mechanical bar rake is a very expensive piece of equipment but it’s very important to the operator. It’s the front of the plant and it removes the solids and the grit and things that protect that downstream equipment… It’s been down a few years, so I mean we have survived but we have to meet certain guidelines with Ohio EPA and that’s what we’re concerned about going forward,” Nickles says.

Officials at the wastewater treatment plant say being able to fix mechanical infrastructure is crucial to operations.

“We realize we got one chance to get it right, and this is going to affect this plant for many many years to come,” Nickles says.

The city manager proposes a majority of the funds be put towards fulfilling the needs at the wastewater treatment plant, the new water treatment plant, a Franklin Furnace pumping station, and a sewer pump station’s construction.

This way, the toll on customer’s bills as a result of the repairs won’t be as high.

“We’ve ran this infrastructure to the end of its useful life and we have to replace it and sadly, customers are going to have to bear some of that cost. We are doing everything we can do to find any grant money, and funds we can help to pay for this,” Sutherland says.

A discussion of how the money will be used will take place Monday. From there, city council will decide whether to move forward with legislation. If so, ordinances will be voted on in the first meeting in September.

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