Wells balloon costs

Five new wells and additional groundwater monitoring test will cause the Auglaize County Solid Waste District’s budget for 2013 to balloon 23 percent.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials ordered the county to drill five new wells at the former St. Marys landfill in 2013 to monitor groundwater possible entering the St. Marys River.

The extra wells which also require additional testing the first year more than doubles the cost allocated for testing to $280,000 from $131,000, or a 114 percent increase. The entire budget increases to $897,445 from $731,787.

“They (EPA) want more wells drilled, between the existing wells that we have, for a total of five additional wells and they want us to do more testing on them this year to get a baseline which increases that line item significantly,” Solid Waste District Coordinator Dave Reichelderfer said, noting they pay separately for installation of the well, withdrawing of samples and the testing of the samples. “It also requires more samples we have to send to the lab so the cost increases there, too.

“The groundwater monitoring line item should go down the next year (2014) because we won’t have to take and to send in so many tests because we will already have established the baseline,” he told the Auglaize County commissioners Thursday during his budget hearing. “Once the initial testing is done then hopefully the cost should drop off a little bit and we also can decommission a couple of wells in the future. Hopefully this is just a bump in the system.”

Reichelderfer explained the county’s $20 parcel fee implemented in January should be able to cover the increased cost for testing. He anticipates the cost for installing the wells testing to drop to approximately $180,000 to $190,000 in 2014.

EPA officials have wanted additional wells for the past 10 years. EPA and county officials agreed to install five wells in 2013, but the EPA officials would like to see an additional five wells installed in the future.

Reichelderfer said he and advisers from the county’s consulting firm, Hull & Associates, believe at least a couple of wells could be decommissioned since the test results are low and most of the time the wells are dry and cannot be tested.

Commissioner John Bergman said he along with commissioners Doug Spencer and Don Regula understand the reasons for the increased cost.

“It is just something we will have to deal with and that the high number is just an anomaly,” Bergman said. “Like Dave Reichelderfer said this number should drop off or will drop off because we won’t have the cost of installing the wells and we will only have the monitoring costs. This is something we have been through before and we will get it through it again.”

While Bergman said he does not like to increase taxes, the implementation of the $20 parcel fee at the beginning of 2012 should cover the increased cost in testing which otherwise would have had to be shouldered by the General Fund.

The remaining line items in the budget stayed the same except for personnel’s salary increased to $166,893 from $162,032 allocated in 2012.

The other line item to increase was contract services, which increased to $85,000 from $75,000. The increase was required to pay for maintenance on two trucks the district uses.