LIMA — One of the largest public works project in Lima’s history has, perhaps surprisingly, proceeded more smoothly than most.
“On time and within budget.” That’s how Michael Caprella, utilities director for the City of Lima, described the city’s $40 million storm and waste water tank construction project being built along the banks of the Ottawa River near the intersection of Collett and Kibby streets.
Speaking Tuesday at the noon meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Lima, Caprella said the federally-mandated construction of a 13-million gallon underground tank was ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help prevent combined sewer overflows, or CSOs, from dumping raw sewage into the Ottawa River during periods of heavy rainfall.
“I’m often asked why we are building this. And the answer is: because we have to,” Caprella told the Kiwanians. “We have signed a consent decree with the EPA to address combined sewer overflows in the city. Actually the consent decree requires us to spend more than $150 million over the next 15 to 18 years” to address environmental concerns.
The utilities director said some 60% of Lima is serviced by sewer lines that carry both sanitary sewage and storm water run-off. The city on average experiences between 45 and 50 instances of combined sewer overflows each year, he said, resulting in diluted amounts of sewage finding its way into the Ottawa River.
“We have to cut that number of CSOs to five,” said Caprella. “Any overflows during periods of heavy rainfall will now be diverted into the huge tank that is being built. Once the rains have stopped, the water in the tank will be pumped back to our waste water plant for treatment.”
The massive, 13 million gallon tank that is under construction adjacent to Simmons Field measures 200 feet wide by 400 feet long and 45 feet in depth. Built at the site of a former landfill, more than 75,000 cubic yards of rock were excavated and moved off site, Caprella said. More than 35,000 cubic yards of concrete have been poured to construct the holding tank.
The bid price for the project was $36.5 million, but the removal and proper disposal of contaminated soil from the site added another $4 million to the overall price tag. A $13 million, zero-interest state loan is financing nearly a third of the project, with additional long-term, low-interest loans secured by the city cover the majority of the remainder of the cost.
City utility customers have also seen an EPA fee added to their monthly bills, Caprella said.
Upon completion of the overflow tank, the site will be reverted to a green space which Caprella said could include ball diamonds or other recreational uses.
“This is the biggest, most expensive project the city has, and it’s gone the smoothest of any of them,” he told Kiwanis Club members.
Caprella attributed much of that success to the general contractor, Peterson Construction Co. of Wapakoneta.
Initial groundbreaking began in May of 2018. Since that time, 90,000 cubic yards of soil have been removed from the field