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Water system discussed at Minerva Council

By SARA KLEI News Leader Staff Writer Published: February 23, 2017 12:00 AM

Minerva's water line system resurfaced as a topic of discussion at village council's Feb. 14 meeting after Sandy Creek Joint Fire Chief Aaron Stoller and Village Administrator Dave Harp voiced concerns about the village's need for maps of water system infrastructure.

In May last year council authorized Harp to contract with the Rural Community Assistance Program for a utility rate study, but a project with RCAP to develop an interactive, computer-based map the village's water, sewer and storm water systems remains on the table while council considers how to fund the estimated $41,000 price tag. Meanwhile, village employees are using paper maps of the village's utilities systems.

Speaking in support of the mapping project, Stoller asked council to devote a future meeting to a discussion about low water pressure that he said exists in the northeast portion of the village. Lower pressure can affect water availability for daily household tasks as well as for fire suppression systems such as sprinklers and hydrants, he said.

Stoller explained that Minerva's water pressure relies on a gravity system, which provides higher pressure to structures located below the village's water tower than it does to structures at higher elevations in the village. Additionally, while Minerva's water plant pumps water at a pressure rate of 70 pounds per square inch, other community water plants are able to pump at rates of 100 psi or more.

"We can't create pressure. Pressure's created by hilltops," he said. However, he noted that fixing clogged water lines, broken valves and degrading pipe can help maintain better pressure.

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Stoller noted that an interactive map of the village's water system would show where lines and valves are located, which could help water department and fire department personnel address water line problems. He also recommended that the village conduct "tap and flow" tests at fire hydrants to determine which lines have low pressure.

Harp focused his discussion on a new mandate by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency that requires municipalities to submit water distribution system maps to the state this spring.

Maps must be color-coded to indicate which water lines in a community have a high, medium, or low chance of containing lead. Harp said the EPA is also requiring the maps to include labels of every building in a community with a note regarding when the building was constructed, which can indicate whether the building could contain lead surfaces.

Harp said because the village does not have a computer-based map, he must use an existing paper map of the village's water lines, which he will color-code by hand to reflect lines that were installed after 1980 and therefore have a low probability of containing lead.

However, he cautioned, "As far as lead surfaces, I think we can pin it on some old lines. But unless we dig it up, we don't know that it's there."

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Harp said he would also have to note, by hand, buildings that were constructed in the village before 1990 and therefore could contain lead soldering in their water pipes. He noted that an official with Cleveland has told him the city will use a similar approach for its own map.

"I would say that, for one, if we went out on Lincolnway, I'm probably going to mark on that map there's a probability that those houses could have a lead surface," Harp commented.

In answer to a question from Waller, Harp said the EPA has not explained what measures it might take if a municipality does not submit its map. The agency cannot turn off water service in a non-compliant municipality, nor has it offered funds that municipalities with lead-containing lines could use to remove the lead, said Harp. However, he noted that he plans to submit Minerva's map by the required deadline.

In other business, council:

LEARNED that Minerva will not receive Community Development Block Grant funds for improvements along Murray Avenue. Harp said funds cannot be awarded to the village because not enough residents completed required income surveys for the grant. "We didn't get the participation rate that we needed. As a result, we didn't qualify. They declared it to be a non-eligible area not meeting the low-moderate income status. I wish that people would have replied, but they didn't. I pounded door to door and didn't get anybody to answer," Harp said. Funds will return to Stark County and be reallocated, he noted.

HEARD Stoller report that Minerva's connection to Stark County's new computer-aided 911 dispatch system is still in process. Dispatchers who have been testing the system discovered glitches in the mapping software regarding addresses in Carroll and Columbiana County that the Sandy Creek Joint Fire District includes in its territory. Stoller said there is also a lingering data-sharing issue between Minerva and Stark County.

HEARD Stoller report that Stark County is examining Minerva's radio tower site at Queen and Grant streets, a location where the county might build a new radio tower as part of its work to set up the MARCS radio system for emergency and first-response agencies. Stoller said county officials want to survey the site of the village's existing tower to identify property owners in the area as officials decide whether to demolish the tower and build a new structure or acquire more property for a tower. He noted that there are still "no hard figures" as to what the MARCS system will cost to develop.

AGREED that Harp would obtain quotes for traffic signals on Main and High Street that must be replaced. Harp said each signal will cost about $6,100.

APPROVED third and final readings of six pieces of legislation authorizing inter-fund transfers of interest to village funds, the movement of monies from one line item to another within the village's budget, and authorizing Harp to receive bids for milling and resurfacing of streets and to apply for state and federal funds used for outdoor recreational facilities.

APPROVED the first reading of legislation adopting a written policy for the sale or disposal of village-owned property that is no longer needed. A brief discussion about the policy took place, but Village Law Director Clark Battista said details of the policy will be available when the legislation is adopted at the third reading. He noted that the policy will help the village particularly when the village's records are audited as required by law.

HEARD Battista state that Grace Chapel's elders have decided not to build an expansion of the church in the village's industrial park based on issues that arose after an engineering study for the project was conducted.

HEARD Waller explain current activities taking place at PCC Airfoils. Waller said residents in the area might be seeing required testing of water wells in the area as well as regular cleaning activities that take place at the PCC Airfoils facility.

DISCUSSED stray cats in the village after Councilwoman Cynthia Lawson pointed out that the village has an ordinance stating that cats should be on a leash. Harp said many communities contract with their local humane society to live trap, neuter or spay, and release the cats; however, he noted, the communities pay the cost of the program. Harp said the village is not authorized to trap the cats. Councilman Tim Tarbet stated, "The problem is, with the cats that are running loose, they don't have any claim to owners, so you can't do anything about them."


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