County receives $2,070,000 grant to upgrade SoMoCo sewer system

Staff Report

MOUNT GILEAD — Morrow County Commissioners were pleased to receive word they have obtained a $2,070,000 grant to improve Southern Morrow County (SoMoCo) Sanitary Sewer System that provides service to the State Route 61/Interstate 71 interchange and nearby businesses in Bennington and Peru townships.

“This significant grant will greatly reduce the total cost of necessary improvements to the SoMoCo Sanitary Sewer that supports several of Morrow County’s largest employers, including the Bennington Glen Nursing Home, the Dollar Tree Distribution Center and the Bennington Way Industrial Park,” said Morrow County Commissioner Tom Whiston.

He added, “The grant not only reduces costs for current businesses and residents, but also keeps this development site attractive to future growth, more services and better jobs.”

The grant will fund a significant upgrade to the current SoMoCo Sanitary Sewer treatment process for effluent from the SoMoCo lagoon system, enabling it to meet the highest standards of discharge required by the Ohio EPA. These improvements will allow for direct discharge to Alum Creek and eliminate the need for land application of effluent on a 120-acre field along County Road 218.

“The enhanced treatment made possible by this grant will reduce total phosphorus loading into the environment by 81% which is a reduction of more than 639 pounds of phosphorus per year,” said Commissioner Tim Siegfried.

This grant will fund most of the expected cost of this project and benefit all of the current users clustered around the State Route interchange with Interstate 71, and will help limit costs for future users.

“This project shows that by working collaboratively with the State of Ohio, we can obtain necessary funds that protect the environment, reduce costs for residents, and help promote smarter growth at one of the most important economic development sites in Morrow County,” Whiston said.

All three Commissioners thank Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and the Ohio General Assembly for the $2,070,000 grant. The Commissioners also credit Poggemeyer Design Group for considerable efforts on the project and for assistance in applying for the grant. They also thanked County Engineer Bart Dennison for ranking the SoMoCo upgrade as the top reviewed project in Morrow County for the state’s grant consideration.

“Given that the state received more than 1,200 grant applications for more than $1.4 billion in requests, we believe the value of this project is clear,” Whiston said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced the award on December 7 along with more than $100 million in other projects across Ohio as part of the third and final round of grants awarded through the new Ohio BUILDS water infrastructure grant program. The Ohio General Assembly created the Ohio BUILDS water infrastructure grant program through House Bill 168 with funding that was appropriated through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“Governor DeWine and I have made water quality and protecting our natural resources in Ohio a priority, and it is great to see the legislature prioritizing it as well,” said Lt. Husted. “Water quality isn’t just about protecting our health; it’s also about our quality of life and our economic future.”

The last step before beginning the installation of the upgraded sewer system is receiving a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDE) Permit. Commissioners received a preliminary report on the draft permit on December 29 that is very favorable. Because of that report they anticipate being able to submit for a permit to install with a final design for the sewer system by Poggemeyer Design Group in April 2022.

Proposed treatment process

The system proposed by the Poggemeyer Design Group is a four-phase supplemental treatment following the lagoon process that includes:

1. A triple-point environmental NitrOx system – This is known as a moving bed bioreactor (MBBR), this process is aimed at reducing Carbonaceous Biochemical Oxygen Demand (CBOD) which is a measurement of dissolved oxygen depletion. The system is also effective at reducing ammonia

2. Chemical treatment with aluminum sulfate; this is a common process for settling dissolved phosphorus out of suspension

3. Aqua Aerobics Systems Inc. – Aqua MiniDisk filters, this process is aimed at reducing the total suspended solids (TSS) and phosphorus

4. A Trojan Ultra Violet Light wastewater disinfection system that treats pathogens and bacteria.

This full treatment process will enable the upgraded system to meet the highest standards for effluent treatment in reducing both total suspended solids and CBOD to less than 10-12 parts per million.

Project background

In 2018 the Morrow County Commissioners worked to secure a $120 million investment into Morrow County by attracting the Dollar Tree Distribution Center to locate their 1,200,000 square foot distribution facility in southern Morrow County.

As part of that development effort, the Commissioners agreed to purchase the privately[1]owned SoMoCo Sanitary Sewer located along County Road 225 in Peru Township.

The SoMoCo sanitary sewer is a lagoon system built in 1998 that applies treated effluent by an Ohio EPA land application permit. The Commissioners carried over efforts from the facility’s original owners, which have continued to provide a more effective treatment process. Those efforts have resulted in a process that will provide an 81% decrease in phosphorus with the much cleaner effluent being discharged to Alum Creek.

The Morrow County Commissioners contracted with Poggemeyer Design Group to submit the NPDES permit application, anti-degradation application, and to coordinate necessary, OEPA-required stream monitoring and modeling. The Commissioners also contracted with Geosyntec to complete a required technical stream sampling report for the NPDES permit. The Ohio EPA approved the stream monitoring, modeling and sampling report in the fall of 2021.

Many Ohio Sanitary Sewer Systems discharge directly into streams and rivers. For more information see “Wastewater treatment principles and regulations,” at

Staff Report