GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission discussed during a commission meeting Tuesday the possibility of creating a connection with Gallia Rural Water so that both organizations might serve as a backup source of water for area residents in the event of emergency water loss.
“I’ve asked Brent Bolin from Gallia Rural Water to stop in tonight,” said Gallipolis City Manager Gene Greene. “The city, for years and the county way before my time, had talked about a tie-in between the city water and the county water, which I think would be a very good thing. We went through the no water a few years ago and if we would have had the system that Brent and I were talking about we could have probably at least gotten water back to 50 or maybe 75 percent of the town.”
Greene referred to a past crisis that started as a seemingly innocuous water leak in June 2014 that continued for a couple days before turning into a critical health emergency as many downtown businesses and city residents lost water service for about eight days. The water disruption caused restaurants and businesses to close for several days as city crews and outside resources worked to resolve the problem.
“It’s something that’s been needed,” said Greene. “What’s brought it more to my attention lately is that (Ohio) EPA has us on a watch list and we’ve been on that watch list ever since we had the water leak down here on Chickamauga. That is the only thing that will get us off that watch list. Once we do that, tie into another source of a backup water system, they’ll take us off of this list.”
Greene said he spoke with Bolin from Gallia Rural Water as well as the city maintenance manager and they felt it would be appropriate to tie the two water systems together near Holzer Medical Center on Ohio 160.
“We all know if we lose water, the hospital is in some pretty bad shape out there,” said Greene.
Greene also said some lines on Eastern Avenue for Gallia Rural Water and city water ran closely together, a location with tie-in potential. Another suggested location also exists in Centenary.
Greene and Bolin agreed in the meeting that the two organizations would split the cost of the endeavor. Bolin said some supplies had been purchased and some plans needed to be sent to an engineer for the project and submitted to Ohio EPA. He said Ohio EPA had also recommended Gallia Rural Water take the same action, to tie with the city.
City Commissioner Tony Gallagher asked Greene what type of financial obligation the city would need to complete the project. Greene replied it depended on how many connections the two respective organizations wished to make but that a previous estimate of a water connection between Gallia Rural Water and the city near McCormick Road was priced around $50,000, $25,000 coming from each respective entity.
Discussion between Greene and Bolin said the connection would need to be metered, as mandated by the Ohio EPA. A metered connection would measure gallons utilized by one organization in the event of a crisis and could potentially be counted and turned into the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a means of acquiring financial assistance.
“I look at it like mutual aid, kind of like a fire department,” said Bolin. “Same idea. Not try to (make money off of each other). Let’s just help each other out.”
Bolin said previous conversations between the city and Gallia Rural Water had been concerned about cost of water useage, however, “if you got an emergency, you need water.”
Commissioners agreed that Greene should continue exploring methods to create a connection between city water systems and Gallia Rural Water.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.