Residents Face Big Bill to Connect to Steubenville Sewer System

STEUBENVILLE — Jefferson County residents along Permars Run Road may be facing an expensive bill in the future to connect to the city sewer system that runs along the county road.

Bruce Misselwitz, Jefferson County health department administrator, said the issue dates back almost 20 years to a lawsuit filed by Permars Run residents who filed a lawsuit against the city and the Fort Steuben Mall claiming their properties had been damaged by increased runoff along the creek.

At the time, Steubenville officials told Permars Run residents they could connect to the city sewer line but only if the residents agreed to annex into the city, Misselwitz said.

The city has been mandated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to connect the Permars Run homes to the city sewer line, regardless of the annexation issue.

Misselwitz said the city health department called his office seeking help in meeting the sewer mandate.

He said there are 54 homes along the section of Permars Run Road. The county road meets Sinclair Avenue at each end, and Sinclair Avenue is inside the city limits.

He said some of the homes connected to the city sewer line long before the annexation issue was raised. Other homes have septic systems but the systems are discharging into Permars Run, he said.

The county health department is expected to conduct a dye test at homes along Permars Run Road. The dye is placed into a toilet and flushed, and county health department workers will monitor Permars Run for evidence of the dye to confirm the home is discharging sewer water into the creek, Misselwitz said.

He noted he will be informing the Jefferson County commissioners that the sewer problem will have to be addressed. He said the county may have to install a lift station to carry the sewerage from lower areas along the road to the city’s sewer line.

He added the cost to the homeowners may be expensive.

According to Steubenville Health Commissioner Patty Reda, “We are checking on one residence within the city limits to make sure it is properly hooked up to a legal septic system, but the rest of the homes in question are under the county’s jurisdiction.

“I understand Bruce Misselwitz and Jefferson County Engineer Jack Gilmore will be looking at plans to hook these residences into a sanitary sewer line,” Reda said.

Michael Dolak, city engineer, said the city’s only responsibility is to allow the county or the Permars Run homes to connect to the existing city sewer line.

“The EPA consent order in 1997 requires us to waive the tap-in fee, but that is the extent of our involvement,” Dolak said.

“Any sewer lines will have to run under the creek in that area. And I believe a contractor performing the sewer work will have to receive a permit to install application from the EPA and make sure all EPA requirements are met,” Dolak said.

Rocky Augustine, superintendent of the water and sewer department, said county officials may look at installing a sewer line on the south side of the creek for several homes.

“If they take that approach, they will then have to install a lift station to pump the sewage under the creek to the city line. But that is probably a better approach than having each residence connect to the city line on an individual basis,” Augustine said.

“This will probably be an expensive project but as far as the city is concerned, we will follow the EPA mandate and allow the residents to tie into the city’s sewer system without paying a tap-in fee,” Dolak noted.