Dayton may have to spend $5M to try to reduce river pollution

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Dayton may have to spend $5M to try to reduce river pollution

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The lower Great Miami River, not far from Dayton’s Water Reclamation facility. CORNELIUS FROLIK

The city of Dayton is seeking a $4.8 million state loan to pay for upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant to try to reduce pollution in the lower Great Miami River.

The city may not have to invest in upgrades if it wins a challenge before the Environmental Review Appeals Commission. But the city needs to be prepared if its appeal is rejected, city officials said.

The city’s wastewater treatment plant must comply with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requirements limiting the amount of phosphorous it can discharge into the river.

Excessive phosphorous in the river, also called nutrient pollution, can harm water quality and damage or destroy aquatic animal and plant life.

But the city, along with Montgomery County, have appealed the state’s phosphorous restrictions, claiming that farm runoff from the “upstream agricultural community” is the main source of phosphorous in the water and making expensive upgrades won’t solve the problem of nutrient build-up.

Dayton’s water reclamation facility at 2800 Gutherie Road in southwest Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF Staff Writer

The city and county are not giving up their fight against the Ohio EPA’s phosphorous limits, city officials said, but the city is trying to line up a way to pay for the plant upgrades if they must be made.

“We’ll be able to install new processes at our wastewater treatment plant to be able to meet the limits we have on phosphorous on the discharge,” said Michael Powell, Dayton’s director of water.

The loan the city is requesting has no interest and would be repaid over 20 years, according to city of Dayton documents. The principal payment would be about $240,000 that would come from the sanitary sewer account.

The city is required to submit a proposal to the Ohio EPA by Feb. 1 on how it plans for its wastewater treatment plant to comply with the phosphorous limit.

The plant must be compliant by Feb. 1, 2019, unless the city’s appeal succeeds.

The loan would allow the city to avoid having to take funding from its capital budget that would be used for other projects, Powell said.

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