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Norton reader asks officials to consider options

9/26/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

I would like to offer the following in response to the article regarding the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] mandate for Norton [in the Sept. 19, 2013 issue, “EPA orders city to proceed on sewer project”].

Several months ago, I attended a Summit County Public Health presentation on their water quality analysis of Nash Heights. Apparently, the Norton City Council had commissioned them to do a study on the drainage/runoff that was migrating into Lake Dorothy. Each of the streets in the area was identified as to whether they met the EPA standards for bacteria levels and septic leakage. Our street and several others were found to be acceptable. Knowing that, and that the EPA has now made it official that there is a problem that has to be addressed in the near future, does that mean that only the offending streets and their owner’s respective septic systems have to be fixed? Or is this the justification the City Council was looking for to impose their proposed sewer system on the community as a whole?

Throughout the debate about the sewer system in general has been the issue of an EPA mandate. Apparently there was no record of such an action other than an issue, as I understand it historically, that started many years ago. The EPA had cited the malfunctioning septic system of the former Greenwich Road hotel that was once where the new firehouse now sits. The runoff from the hotel was entering a stream that fed into Lake Dorothy. Appropriately, it had to be fixed or the city would face a fine. I spoke to someone who was at the City Council meeting at that time to address the issue. He said the mayor [at that time], in essence, said because this one issue had been identified, then the whole of Norton must be suspect. No one apparently challenged his broad-based statement. Thus the incredibly expensive sewer system engineering study was initiated.

Now the residents of Nash Heights, and later the community of Norton as a whole, will have to fund this project. But has anyone explored, let alone suggested, any other cost effective options? A co-worker of mine who lives off of Hametown Road in Copley just faced a similar dilemma. His home is adjacent to a lake and, as such, is similar to the Nash Heights neighborhood. His septic system was failing and needed to be replaced immediately. In order to meet the EPA and Summit County Public Health requirements, an individual, self-contained waste processing unit was installed in place of his septic system. It cost him close to $9,000. He pays a fee to have the runoff tested once a year to make sure it meets the required standards. The system does not require being pumped. It processes all of the waste in an environmentally safe manner. And it does not require a sewer system, especially an outdated one, to meet the EPA mandate. It is a system designed for the future.

In order to meet the now pending EPA ruling, wouldn’t it be prudent to stop and consider once again the financial impact that this ambitious sewer proposal is going to have on the Norton community? As homeowners we need to take a hard look at our options and hopefully have a chance to choose what is best for the community as a whole.

William Heustis, Norton

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