Groveport has awarded a $2.8-million contract for the construction of its new water plant to Kirk Brothers Construction Co. of Alvada, Ohio.
"Kirk Brothers is expected to be on site around July because it takes a while to manufacture some of the project components before they can start construction," City Administrator Marsha Hall said. "We expect this will be about a one-year project, so the new plant should be in operation sometime next summer."
The awarding of the contract has been delayed for several months while Groveport City Council debated whether to authorize the city's use of bond proceeds to pay for a new water plant. Currently, about 1,200 Groveport residents receive their water through the city, while another 1,500 Groveport residents receive their water through a contract with Columbus.
All Groveport residents currently receive sewer services through a contract with Columbus.
The Ohio EPA told the city in 2009 that Groveport's water plant, built in 1936, no longer met safety regulations.
The debate over whether the city should build a new plant or join the Columbus water system has gone on since 2012, when a feasibility study was done.
Water rate increases started in 2012 as a way to generate money to pay for the project; rates are scheduled to go up by 96 percent over a six-year period.
Current water system maintenance is being carried out under a negotiated consortium-based contract between six municipalities -- including Groveport -- and Caldwell Tanks.
An upgraded pressure-relief valve is being installed between the Columbus and Groveport water systems, which Hall said will allow for the eventual decommission of one of the city's water tanks, dubbed the Tin Man.
"We are getting ready to perform some of the maintenance, including painting, on the water tank which should begin by (Monday, May 19)," Hall said in her report to city council May 12. "We'll start by doing some pressure testing on the Tin Man tank so we can shut down the main tank, and use the Tin Man during the maintenance."
According to Hall, the pressure testing on the Tin Man tank will likely stir up sediment and could make tap water "cloudy" for a few minutes when customers first use their water. Maintenance work on the main tank is expected to last 45 days; the Tin Man tank will be the only one in use for about 25 of those days.
"Everyone will have received a letter from the city explaining the cloudiness and the need to run your tap for a few minutes before the water clears back up," Hall said. "Either way, the water is safe, and if there's an emergency, we can switch to the Columbus system as part of our agreement."
As a part of the overall water plant project, the Tin Man tank will eventually be dismantled. Until that time, Hall said, the tank is receiving only the minimum maintenance necessary to maintain its usefulness.