Sabina officials to consider water system options in coming weeks

By Gary Huffenberger -

SABINA — The village has issues with its water system because of the age, acknowledged the mayor, but he and council presently think there are reasons not to connect with Wilmington’s waterworks as a solution.

The equipment inside the Sabina water treatment plant dates back 60 years ago to 1961, and most of the town’s upcoming projects revolve around water, Sabina Mayor Jim Mongold said Thursday night.

Over the next few months, village leaders will need to weigh their options, said the mayor, adding he doesn’t want to increase customer fees if that can be avoided.

At the next regular village council meeting on Feb. 25, village officials will hear from specialists “on what our options may be, and what [financial] assistance is out there,” Mongold said.

The priority is going to be a focus on the treatment plant first, he said.

The village’s revenue stream won’t provide enough funds to replace the treatment plant, plus pay for the work on other water system items such as water mains, the wells that are the source of the village’s water, and meters.

“For that, we need to look at grants or loans,” said Mongold.

Clinton County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Taylor Stuckert has asked whether the village, for its water supply, might be interested in linking up with the Wilmington water system.

The mayor said Thursday that if it were simply to supply water as an emergency backup, he thinks that would be fine. But if instead it were to, on a daily basis, replace the village’s current water supply, he sees quite a few issues and questions.

It’s a 12-mile stretch from Wilmington to Sabina and the mayor is not sure how many pump stations that would involve, and what if one goes down?

He also asked, “Would we have to purchase a certain amount of water per year?” And how would it affect water rates?

For his part, he prefers the village not be dependent on another municipality for water.

“I know it’s getting to be a common thing in a lot of places, but it just kind of makes me nervous,” Mongold said.

At one point in the discussion, the mayor pointed to New Vienna as a village that was able to obtain for itself a new water treatment plant and water mains.

Several council members expressed at least preliminary reservations or opposition to hooking up to the Wilmington water system.

Councilman Benjamin Collings said he thinks it’s good for the town to maintain control over its own water system, which gives village elected officials control over the rates which might not be the case otherwise.

He added the village government might spend less if the water were supplied by Wilmington, but that the customers might get charged more. He said that water rates have been higher in Wilmington than they’ve been in Sabina.

It was also mentioned that utility employees of the village might lose their job.

Longtime Sabina Councilwoman Peggy Sloan said she favors bypassing the Wilmington possibility for safety reasons and unforeseen costs.

Sabina Fiscal Officer Nancy L. Cornell raised the questions of whether Wilmington would assume the balance of the water loan Sabina has, and whether Sabina municipal service workers would still be the ones to turn off residents’ water (in the event of delinquent payments).

Collings said, “I was going to add, I’m more than willing to hear Taylor Stuckert out [about a related grant opportunity]. He might be able to answer some of these questions.”

On a different topic, Collings reported he had a pretty long conversation with people associated with the farmers market in Wilmington and received a lot of good information, and is scheduled next week to talk to representatives of the Fayette County farmers market.

Collings has been a point man in an effort to explore the possibility of Sabina having its own farmers market.

Mongold followed up on Collings’ update.

“That’s [a farmers market] something that may not seem like a big deal, but it kind of is around here,” said the mayor. “And it’s just fantastic that you’re working on that. Thank you.”

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768. photo

By Gary Huffenberger