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What Went Wrong In St. Clairsville?

As St. Clairsville officials near a decision on whether to sell the municipal water system to a private company, it is becoming clearer that the city’s H2O infrastructure is, well, a wreck.

Last week, city council members were told the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is mandating costly repairs and improvements to the water system. “I can’t express to council and the public the severity of this,” said municipal Safety and Service Director Jim Zucal. “There’s tens of millions of dollars of requirements” from the OEPA, he added.

Zucal and other proponents of selling the system, have made it plain they agree with state officials. Both the water treatment and distribution systems need an enormous amount of work, they say.

Well, the OEPA order makes that official. It is fair to ask, however, how the water system was permitted to deteriorate to such an extent.

It didn’t happen overnight. Were St. Clairsville officials in the past making the same mistake their counterparts in Steubenville did — failing to make necessary upgrades, little by little, that would require water rate increases?

As readers of this newspaper know, that neglect forced current officials in Steubenville to enact a whopping rate hike earlier this year.

Obviously, St. Clairsville’s water system has been neglected. Residents of the city have a right to know how that happened.

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