Preliminary results from a company putting together a wastewater-treatment master plan for Heath show the city might have to spend a few million dollars on upgrades.

Preliminary results from a company putting together a wastewater-treatment master plan for Heath show the city might have to spend a few million dollars on upgrades.

John Geller, the city's utilities director, said preliminary figures show the city might need to spend $4.2-million on improvements.

"It's mainly improvements to the head works," he said.

Geller said the city asked for figures this month because the city might need them to file for federal funding that could become available in an economic-stimulus package (See related story above).

The final plan is not expected to be completed until February, Geller said.

Heath Mayor Richard Waugh stated in his preparation for economic-stimulus money that funds would "completely renovate the waste-receiving end of the plant to ensure compliance with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) requirements and replace worn-out equipment."

Heath hired Malcolm Pirnie in May 2008 to complete a master plan of the city's wastewater-treatment system.

Geller said the plan is expected to define the city's needs for the next 20 years and provide recommendations on the most cost-effective treatment facilities and processes and ways to fund improvements. It also should include data analysis of plant operations, an inventory of existing assets, analysis of the treatment process and future regulations, a list of alternatives to increase treatment capacity and resolve any deficiencies, and an implementation plan.

The preliminary report shows improvements could include upgrading the screening process, scum handling, aeration for dissolved oxygen control, influent pumping, electrical systems and a standby generator.

Geller said the figures are very preliminary and said the city could decide not to do all of the recommended improvements if they're cost-prohibitive.

After final engineering is completed in February, Geller said, the city could begin project design.

Construction is planned for 2010. Last year, Heath City Council decided not to start construction until then so it would not have to raise water rates to pay for the project.

The city took out two loans to upgrade the wastewater plant. One is to be paid back by 2010, with the other by 2012. If construction could wait until 2010, after one of the loans is paid off, the city could take out another loan to finish the improvements and not have to raise customers' water rates.

The wastewater-treatment plant is at 719 Licking View Drive.

lwince@thisweeknews.com