RIO GRANDE — The Waste Water Treatment Plant in Rio Grande began treating septic water once more at 1:20 p.m., Friday, after heavy flooding from intense thunderstorms disabled the facility early July 14.
According to Sandy Perry, chairperson of the Rio Grande sewer and water board, workers repaired water pumps to functionality around 3:30 p.m., Thursday. The plant was initially shutdown Tuesday morning around 1:30 a.m. and started treating again Friday at 1:20 p.m. Roughly 84 hours passed before Rio Grande could start treating waste water.
“We’re treating sewage. We’re up and running. We’re not up and running at full capacity yet, but we can handle the capacity of the village. When I say we’re not up to running full yet, we don’t have all the electrical (accoutrements) yet. The important things the village needs are running,” mayor of Rio Grande, Matt Easter, said.
According to Easter, the village estimates roughly $250,000 in damage, worst case. “The best case scenario” estimate was around $125,000. He did say that no final cost had been concluded yet.
“There are still things that need replaced. We made patch fixes that need addressed within a year. We made fast fixes,” Perry said.
Perry thanked the residents of Rio Grande for their time and patience during the “crisis.” She noted she could tell by the amount of material coming into the facility that the town and its people were being considerate of the situation. She extended further thanks to the Rio Grande Fire Department, ODNR’s Forestry Department, Bob Evans Farm for providing supplies to local individuals in their time of need as well as volunteers willing to brave the waste water plant’s difficulties.
Perry noted Gallia County Emergency Management Agency was a “huge help” in providing information and communication help while phone services were impaired during the emergency.
Easter noted that because of work done by Kingsley Meyer and Rio Grande University’s campus computing and networking representatives, a temporary AT&T cellular phone tower was erected to help solve communication problems due to flood damage in the area.
“I’ve never seen the residents of Rio come together like this. I’m proud of our village and what it’s accomplished in this short time. I’m very supportive of our volunteers that waded into the flood waters to help with this mess,” Easter said.
Perry and Easter noted, while in communication with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, measures were taken to drain untreated sewage into Indian Creek as part of emergency actions.
“If we hadn’t, you would have sewage backing up into people’s homes. This isn’t done as a normal procedure. This was done during a crisis,” Perry said.
She said the act was taken with OEPA’s knowledge and approval of the situation.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.