LIMA — The City of Lima is preparing to undertake the most expensive project in the city’s history next spring, one which, for the most part, will never be seen once completed.
The city is evaluating submitted bids for the construction of a 13-million gallon combined sewer overflow tank to be placed 23 feet underground just southwest of Simmons Field near South Collett Street. The project is mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help prevent combined sewer overflows into the Ottawa River during heavy rain events, during which both wastewater and stormwater are dumped untreated into the river.
“The EPA is mandating us to get down to no more that five overflows in a typical year,” Lima Utilities Director Michael Caprella said. “So as a result of that mandate, we’re building a 13-million gallon underground basin.”
The city typically has between 25 and 45 rains heavy enough to trigger the overflow relief valves each year. By having a large basin to collect excess overflow, discharges in the river can be prevented, with collected overflow water pumped to the wastewater treatment plant for treatment prior to release into the river.
The tank will be constructed out of concrete, with the walls expected to be three to four feet thick. A pump station will be built above ground, with a connecting pipe running from the tank underneath the river to a main sewer line on the other side. That portion of the project will force the closure of that section of the Rotary Riverwalk between October and April. The placement of the tank so far underground means the contractor will have to dig through 17 feet of rock to reach the proper depth, according to Caprella.
“It will have 12 feet of dirt back on top,” he said. “It will take about three years to build this tank.”
To help pay for the project, the city was able to secure a $13-million, 40-year, zero-interest loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority. The rest of the funds will have to come through increasing sewer rates to customers, according to Caprella, but he also said that increases will be added incrementally, rather than all at once.
“There is a line item on the bill that says ‘EPA,’” Lima Mayor David Berger said. “That is where the increase will be.”
Berger also said that activities at Simmons Field will be maintained throughout construction.
“There will be some inconveniences for patrons of the games since we’ll have to manage parking other than where construction is taking place,” he said. “There will be a lot of trucks in a pretty close environment on Collett Street and Kibby Street, so it will probably be necessary for folks to find another way to travel through that part of town.”