MOZART - Residents in Marshall County are dealing with a potentially stinky and unhealthy situation.
Apparently some in Mozart still are without proper ways to dispose of their sewage. Others' septic systems are failing, and sewage is pooling on some streets.
Ronda Francis, Marshall County Health Department administrator, said residents had the opportunity during the 1980s to connect to Wheeling's sewage treatment system. But since not everyone agreed to do so, the state Public Service Commission nixed the project.
"When the property was developed in the 1920s or '30s, the developer omitted septic systems and opted to run sewage directly over the hill. To make matters worse, most of the properties are too small to support an approved system," she said.
"The problem has worsened, and once again attempts are being made to have the area hooked up to the Wheeling treatment plant," she continued. "In order to do so, the county will have to obtain funds to support the expense of the project, which is expected to be in the millions."
Marshall County Commissioner Jason "Jake" Padlow said the county likely will try again for state Infrastructure Council funding for the project, estimated at $9 million. The county applied for it in the past but was denied. He noted portions of Mozart also lie within Ohio County.
"If a septic system is failing, that's the homeowner's responsibility. They need to get that fixed. ... But we don't want the (West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection) to fine people" when we're working on a solution, Padlow said.
Francis said until, and if, residents get connected to the city system, the health department has been testing residents' septic systems "to determine the true extent of the problem."
"We know that some homeowners have been able to install home aeration units, which require approval from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, while those with larger lots have been able to install traditional leach fields," she said. "However, the majority of properties have no existing system and discharge into the wooded areas, onto other properties or into ditches and culverts.
"Pooling sewage can pose a potential health hazard, and efforts should be maintained by residents to avoid affected areas. They can also assist us in locating malfunctioning systems by allowing us access to their homes to do testing. They may contact our office to schedule an assessment of their systems," she added.
Padlow said he expected a sewage-related committee to meet in a couple weeks to talk about funding for the project.