Steubenville City Council and City Water Department Chief Discuss Rising Costs | News, Sports, Jobs

BUDGET TALK — Steubenville Water Superintendent Jim Jenkins explains his proposed 2023 budget to City Council on Tuesday. –Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — No sooner had Water Superintendent Jim Jenkins given the council his work budget for 2023 than he told them they were going to have to recalculate what he would need for chemicals.

“Our chemical costs are exploding, they will likely continue to rise throughout the year,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he penciled in $340,000 for chemicals in the new year, “but that’s changing.”

“We exceeded our budget this year as prices have increased steadily throughout the year and incredibly over the past six months,” he said. “Right now, we’re looking at $560,000 based on the offers we just got for the chemicals.”

He said the price of chlorine has more than doubled from 60 cents a pound last year to $1.25 this year. Likewise, caustic soda, used primarily for pH adjustments, was 11 cents a pound last year.

“It seems really cheap, but we order 45,000 pounds at a time because it comes in a tank truck,” Jenkins said. “Last year, a regular order was $4,700; this year when we first order in January it will be $13,860 – that’s just inflationary costs, that’s how much our chemicals have gone up this year and how much they will go up next year.

Jenkins also told council there were big plans – in particular, the West End Water Reservoir, Maryland Avenue Tower rehabilitation and the Avenue Water Line and Loop. Portland – on the horizon for 2023 and 2024.

He said they had hoped to have the West End project to tender now, “but the Army Corps of Engineers had a fairly lengthy and extensive environmental review that we didn’t factor into our schedule.” The Army Corps is providing $1 million in funding for the project, while the Appalachian Regional Commission has provided a $250,000 grant.

“This review set us back six to eight months,” he said. “It’s good to get money (from them), but it costs us more money in the long run. We spent an additional $200,000 on engineering because of this additional environmental review. »

Jenkins told the board they hoped to launch the bidding process in December with bids opening in January, although that could change.

The Portland Avenue project will solve dirty water problems in a dead end line. The estimated $410,000 fix will loop the water line to Sunset and completely replace the line in the 3100 block of Portland.

“We hope to make an offer in April 2023 with a completion date of November 2023”, he said. “We put it in next year’s budget, it’s mainly for the design. We have already started on that.

He said the $1.6 million Maryland Avenue project was essentially a renovation.

“The tank will be decommissioned”, he said. “Luckily we have another tank in this pressure area, located at Franciscan, so it will take service while (the West End tank) is out of service. We will have it drained, cleaned, pressure washed, sandblasted…all the interior and exterior paint will be redone, the rustproofing will be replaced. Basically we are going to recondition this tank. The construction will take about a year. »

He asked the council for money to pay two part-time workers, either high school or college, to work during the summer. He said he would like to pay each of them $12.50 an hour, if the board approves, and have them work 450 hours or 56 days during the summer.

“Having this help will actually help the assistant (operators) do more treatment work than groundskeeping during the summer,” he said. “We would also like to teach them a bit about water service, what the assistant trades are, so maybe one day they will want to work for us.”

Jenkins said it was becoming increasingly difficult to find people to work in the water and sewer sectors.

“I kind of always had a play for the local (workers),” Jenkins said. “With the construction of the new STEM school building, I have already spoken to the superintendent about hopefully having a water and sewage course there possibly evenings in the future.

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