Oswego sewer back-up program gains support : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Oswego sewer back-up program gains support|
|Village would award grants to help pay for improvements|
|by John Etheredge|
Oswego Village Board members voiced support this past week to a proposal to create and fund a program to help village residents pay for the installation of equipment in their homes intended to prevent sanitary sewer back-ups in their basements.
"I think it's a great idea and I think we should do this," said Judy Sollinger, a board member as she and her board colleagues reviewed plans for the program as prepared by village staff during a meeting Sept. 3.
In addition to Sollinger, Village President Brian LeClercq and board members Scott Volpe, Gail Johnson, Tony Giles and Pam Parr all indicated their support.
As proposed by village staff, the village would establish a grant program that would assist residents who have experienced problems with sanitary sewer back-ups in their basements.
The program would offer 50/50 matching grants to homeowners for the cost of the improvements up to a maximum of $3,000, according to a memo prepared and presented to the board by Rod Zenner, the village's community development director.
A final board vote on the program is still pending. Also, board members will need to identify a funding source for the grants.
In his memo, Zenner said funds for the grant could come from the village's water and sewer fund.
Another potential source of revenue would be the $30,000 the village annually receives from the Fox Metro Water Reclamation District for readings from village water meters, according to Zenner.
He added, "If the village chooses to establish a grant program, it could choose to fund all applicants that qualify, or establish an annual program with a competitive application process to fund a specified number of applicants that could over time address the residential issues."
Zenner noted that many communities have already established similar programs.
According to Zenner, the village could accept grant applications from residential property owners and then award grants based on available funding.
To receive a grant, residents would enter into an agreement with the village.
Zenner said agreement terms would include the following requirements:
nThe village would work with the property owner to identify the type of sewer improvement that is appropriate for the residence.
nThe village would assist residents in reviewing the bids, with a three bid minimum and assist in determining the least expensive qualified bid.
nThe selection of a contractor would be the homeowner's decision.
nThe resident would be reimbursed funds for the cost of the improvement at a 50/50 share with a maximum reimbursement of $3,000. The village would retain the right to provide a grant award for less than 50 percent of the cost if it determines it is appropriate due to any reason including the funding level of the grant program.
nThe resident will provide proof of payment prior to reimbursement by the village.
nThe resident must maintain the improvement in working order.
nThe village would be held harmless of any liability or responsibility of the installed system.
The board directed village staff to study the creation of a grant program at the suggestion of Steve Jones, village administrator, in July.
Initially, Jones raised the idea of co-sponsoring a grant program with the Fox Metro Water Reclamation District, the agency that provides wastewater treatment for the village at its plant off Ill. Route 31 just south of Montgomery.
However, Jones said during a meeting with Fox Metro and other area governmental officials July 9, agency representatives were adamant that they would not participate in a cost-sharing program to assist residents dealing with sanitary sewer back-ups.
Heavy rains that fell on the area and the resulting flooding April 17-18 prompted the board discussions concerning a grant program. Village officials reported receiving calls from nearly 60 residents who had experienced basement-flooding issues.
Jerry Weaver, the village's public works director, said some of the calls received by the village involved residents whose basements had flooded due to sump pump failure, but others came from residents with sewage in their basements due to the sanitary sewer lines backing up.
Sanitary sewer lines 15 inches in diameter and larger in the village are maintained by Fox Metro, while those smaller in diameter and located in the public right-of-way are maintained by the village. The village-owned sanitary sewer lines, which are a tributary to Fox Metro's, are six inch in diameter. Village homeowners are responsible for maintaining the sanitary sewer lines on their own property.
Fox Metro officials confirmed days after the storm that waste and stormwater flows to the plant far exceeded its state-permitted capacity during the flood, and they received numerous reports of raw sewage backing-up into area basements.
Jim Detzler, Fox Metro Board president, told the Ledger-Sentinel the heavy rains overpowered the agency's "whole sewage system."
Sollinger told her board colleagues several homeowners in the Deerpath Creek Subdivision south of Ill. Route 71, west of Grove Road, reported that sewage backed up into their basements.
LeClercq said many homeowners along Sudbury Circle just south of Morgan Creek found sewage in their basements.
"This is the third time in the last 10 years that many residents in that area have had waste material in their basements and they are getting very upset about it and I don't blame them one bit," LeClercq said.