By Ed Runyan
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is withholding a $142,886 payment to Dave Sugar Excavating of Petersburg for work it has done on the $3.1 million Kermont Heights sanitary- sewer project in northern Hubbard Township.
It is the second time in several months the Ohio EPA has withheld payments from the company in a “continuing pattern of problems with storm- water and wetlands issues,” said Mike Settles, Ohio EPA spokesman.
The Kermont Heights project will serve 157 households, three churches, five businesses and about 1,000 acres of vacant real estate along Route 7 just north of the Flying J Truck Stop.
The most-recent problem was uncovered in August. According to the EPA, Dave Sugar Excavating dumped soil it removed from the project area into a wetlands behind a machine shop at 2140 state Route 7, in the project area.
The machine-shop owner asked for the soil to be dumped there, but EPA officials noticed it during an inspection, carried out testing by taking soil borings, and determined that part of the property was a wetlands, said Rex Fee, executive director of the Trumbull County Sanitary Engineer’s Office, which administers sewer-construction projects for the county.
A call to Dave Sugar Excavating late Monday was not returned.
The machine shop is on 4.37 acres next to Ruth Street, and much of the property received the dirt, called “spoils,” Fee said. A map of the property indicates that about 20 percent of the 4.37 acres is wetlands.
The area in question apparently had fill dirt added previously and therefore didn’t look like wetlands.
It’s the contractor’s responsibility, however, to meet state and federal laws regarding the dumping of such dirt, Fee said.
The funds are being withheld until the EPA is satisfied the soil has been moved from the wetlands to another part of the property, Settles said.
EPA memos indicate the soil already has been moved, he added.
Funds were withheld from Dave Sugar Excavating in May for another stormwater and wetlands issue, Settles said.
The project provides sewers to several streets currently served by failing septic systems, causing the EPA to label it an “unsewered area of concern” about a decade ago.
The EPA and Trumbull commissioners agreed to address that and other unsewered areas in a consent agreement the parties signed in 2007.
To reduce costs for the property owners affected by the project, the EPA and its Water Pollution Control Loan Fund agreed to contribute $2.4 million through a low-interest loan.
The project also received a $250,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission and a $250,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission.
The sewer project is 90 percent to 95 percent complete and most likely will be finished in about a month, Fee said.