County to take over Batavia sewer services

Clermont County Commissioners approved an agreement with the village of Batavia and the Clermont County Water Resources Department Sept. 14 to take over operation and maintenance of the village’s water, sewer and trash services for the next three years.

Village and county officials have been discussing the contract for several months now because costs to improve the village’s current systems are too steep for the village to handle without dramatically raising rates.

The contract, which is $493,000 the first year with a two percent increase each year after that, covers water, sewer and trash billing services, wastewater treatment facilities and water distribution and sewer collection systems.

“It is a huge burden off us on coming liabilities as standards become more stringent,” village administrator Dennis Nichols said about the contract.

The village’s systems, especially the sewer system, are in need of improvements. Both the age of the systems as well as village growth have led to deteriorating conditions.

The capacity of the sewer system is 236,000 gallons per month, and many months this year the flows have exceeded the capacity by more than 100,000 gallons. In addition, equipment and infrastructure at both the water and sewer plants are in need of improvements.

If the village pursued the necessary improvements, the plant capacity would have to be expanded and the village would need to prepare for stricter standards. This would mean millions of dollars in funding, in addition to costs associated with system studies and engineering.

“The Clermont system is a very fine system,” Nichols said. “While we’ve been proud to have ours, the time has come for the merger, and we are absolutely delighted the commissioners have approved this.”

The county will continue to use the current facilities, but will be able to study what improvements are needed and what regulations are not being met, which will allow them to work toward improvements that the village cannot fund.

“In the short term it will stabilize rates for all of the users in the Batavia system,” Nichols said about the contract. “In the long term, it will mean lower rates than they would otherwise be able to have.”

The contract with the county will begin Jan. 9, 2012. Village and county officials will get to re-evaluate the contract when it expires, and a permanent contract could be discussed at that time.