Numerous water main breaks on Hamilton roads lead to emergency funds approval

City Council approved Hamilton’s share of emergency funding Wednesday night for a water main replacement project after numerous breaks in recent days on Tari Court.

The state will pay for 90% of the cost to replace water main lines in the Columbia Heights subdivision, which includes Tari Court, Tari Lane, Wildwood Court, Rost Hill Drive, and Columbia Road, according to a letter City Manager Joshua Smith received from Ohio Public Works Commission Director Linda Bailiff at around noon Wednesday.

In order to receive the grant funding, which is to not exceed $745,020, a signed Ohio Public Works Commission project application had to be submitted within 30 days. City Council added the financial request to Wednesday’s City Council meeting agenda so as not to delay the project any further. Hamilton’s share of the project is just under $82,780.

Caitlyn Dasenbrock, of Tari Lane, serendipitously came to City Council Wednesday to seek an update on the project, “making sure that this is going to get done because we’re tired.”

She said her neighborhood had another main break on Tuesday, and one over this past weekend, which damaged her vehicle as well as one of her neighbors. Those who had vehicles damaged due to water main breaks were provided insurance claim forms to be submitted to the city’s insurance company, according to the city.

Hamilton Director of Infrastructure Edwin Porter said they’ve worked diligently on seeking emergency funding for the main breaks over the past week. He said they’d be able to within the next couple of weeks, and they should complete the project within a few months.

“Hopefully, we can get the project installed before the weather turns and restore the asphalt,” Porter said.

If the asphalt isn’t able to be laid by mid-December, there will be a temporary patch over the roads, and the city will come back to repave the road in the spring in the asphalt plants reopen.

During the course of the project, Porter said there would be troubleshooters driving the subdivision twice a day “proactively inspecting” the water mains during the project timeline, and if any leaks or seepage were detected, crews would make repairs before a main break could occur.

Last week, the Journal-News reported that residents on Tari Court had seen as many as eight water main breaks in 13 months, including five over the summer and one last weekend when several residents had some type of water in their basements.

Hamilton Public Works Assistant Director Dan Arthur told the Journal-News he met with one of the property owners last week about the project, and confirmed the construction drawings were completed and were investigating “to see if there is an option to fast-track this project as a change order.”

It had been estimated to cost to make the repairs in the subdivision would be between $700,000 and $800,000.

Arthur said this project was Hamilton’s “number one priority” for the city’s water distribution system because of the number of breaks that area had been experiencing.

He said the reason for the frequent breaks was the chlorine dioxide used in the water treatment process for disinfection seemed to react with the High-Density Polyethylene pipes and make them brittle.

The city planned to make water main repairs for the subdivision in 2023, along with other infrastructure projects. The loan request for the Columbia Heights subdivision has been withdrawn since the city received the emergency grant funding.

However, in January, the city is expected to hear if they are approved for an OPWC loan and grant. The city is seeking a $2.4 million 30-year, no-interest OPWC loan to replace water main pipes on Milleville and Donna avenues, and add 165 feet of water main on North Gersam Avenue.

Hamilton is also seeking a $1.23 million OPWC grant for concrete repairs and street resurfacing that would impact several streets.

The city had withdrawn a loan request to replace water main pipes on Williams Avenue, from Neilan Boulevard to Pleasant Avenue, because there wasn’t enough OPWC funding to support the project, Porter said.

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