$53M project will help reduce Middletown’s combined sewer overflows during heavy rains

Storage tank reservoir must be completed by the end of 2025, according to EPA guidelines.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

MIDDLETOWN — Three years from now, when Middletown residents are enjoying the city’s newest greenspace, they may have no idea what’s buried beneath them.

The city has started a $53 million project to install a five million-galloon storage tank reservoir underground that will help reduce the amount of combined sewer overflows, said Scott Tadych, the city’s public works and utilities director.

He said like the 80 to 90 Ohio cities that have combined storm and sanitary systems, Middletown needs to comply with the federal Clean Water Act by reducing the number of overflows during heavy rain events.

During a “typical year,” Middletown experiences 50 overflows, a number that will be reduced to six after the storage basin is operational by the end of 2025 as required by the federal directives, according to Tadych.

To fund the project, the city borrowed the money and the loan will be paid back over time through the city’s sewer fund, Tadych said.

He said the concrete storage tank will hold the water there for 24 or 48 hours, then slowly pump it back to the main interceptor sewer line that goes to the wastewater treatment plant. That will “significantly reduce” the overflows into the hydraulic canal upstream of the Great Miami River, he said.

A hydraulic hammer is striking pilings 40 feet into the ground on the four-acre construction site at North Main Street and Manchester Avenue. The pilings will frame the structure to provide support during construction, Tadych said.

He called removing that much dirt “a massive excavation.”

Part of the four-acre property was used for city employee parking and the rest the city purchased from Essity, according to Tadych.

In 2018, the city took a significant step forward by negotiating with the EPA to develop a long-term control plan. The centerpiece of this plan is the storage reservoir, he said. This is the city’s third storm water project, following the Sunset Park infrastructure improvements and the Lakeside redirection, according to Tadych.

Eventually, once the reservoir is operational, the greenspace will be converted into a city park. While the amenities haven’t been finalized, they may include an event lawn, permanent home for the Holiday Whopla’s ice and roller rink and pickleball courts. Tadych said the park will have features similar to the Central Avenue project with benches, landscaping and trees.

There also will be a “buffer” between the park and the paper factory, he said.

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