Heath might have to spend more than $400,000 to maintain its water-treatment plant -- but not immediately.

Heath might have to spend more than $400,000 to maintain its water-treatment plant -- but not immediately.

The concrete is starting to wear, according to John Geller, Heath's utilities director.

Geller said that as the concrete around the water clarifiers begins to age, it could cause sagging underneath machinery that must remain level.

The clarifier actually softens the water and helps remove sediment that comes into the treatment plant, Geller said.

Heath's service committee heard the report last week from Geller and asked when funds might be needed for the plant on Dorsey Mill Road, near Hoback Park.

"We're not planning on doing anything until 2011 or 2012," Geller said.

The plant is aging, having had two clarifiers installed in 1957 and in 1969, he said, adding that the two were upgraded in 1998, but the concrete and some of the steel are beginning to show more age.

"It's been 11 years," Geller said. "It's time to start thinking about doing this."

Geller said concrete could be broken down and a new top layer of concrete installed. As for the aging clarifiers themselves, he said, it probably would require $200,000 each to rehabilitate them. He said the city could repair one at a time.

Heath Mayor Richard Waugh said the city's current setup, with three clarifiers, is fine the way it is and that adding a system or upgrading to larger clarifiers isn't necessary yet.

"This year or next year maybe we'll need to do design work," Geller said.

The water-treatment system currently is working fine, Geller said, adding that is why the repairs are not needed immediately.

Steve Glaub, water-plant supervisor, said the plant's newest clarifier, which was installed in 1998, has a larger capacity than the two older clarifiers. When or if the city decides to upgrade the older two, the city would be able to operate with the large 1998 clarifier and one of the smaller ones while the third is shut down for maintenance.

As part of the repairs, the city looks to replace the interior workings on the two older clarifiers and enclose the main working parts. The 1998 model has its main interior workings enclosed.

The committee also reviewed bids for replacement of roofs on two buildings at the water plant. Bids ranged from $11,395 to $12,960.

Geller said both roofs are 20 years old.

Councilman James Watercutter asked if the money is in the budget. Geller said it would have to transfer money from one fund to another to make the repairs.

In other business, the service committee considered establishing a fund to help pay for cleanup when local sewer lines back up into homes and businesses.

Waugh said the money would pay for cleanup only, and the city would have to establish how much money would be used.

"You would have to set an amount," Geller said.

Waugh said it would be helpful for homeowners, especially, but added, "We're not admitting any guilt (by this)."

"This is cleanup, not damages," Watercutter said.

Currently, if a sewer backs up into a home or business, the owner is required to pay for cleanup and then submit a claim to the city's insurance company.

Waugh said the same process would occur, except the city would contribute some funding to the cleanup before the claim is filed.

"It's an impartial cleanup. We'd still be turning this into insurance," he said.