Middletown receives $1.1M grant to improve water treatment plant, limit lime lagoon

Scott Belcher, water treatment plant manager for the City of Middletown, talks to Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development. Middletown received a $1.125 million grant from the state. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

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Scott Belcher, water treatment plant manager for the City of Middletown, talks to Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development. Middletown received a $1.125 million grant from the state. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Money will be used for pump station to lower lime buildup near Smith Park, regional airport

The City of Middletown is designing and planning to build a $1.5 million pump station to capture the filter backwash and pump it into the sanitary sewer to reduce the burden on the nearby lime lagoon.

Scott Tadych, director of public works, said Middletown had planned to borrow money to pay for the project that’s listed on the 2022 budget.

But that won’t be necessary after Gov. Mike DeWine announced that 54 water projects across 60 Ohio counties would be funded with $93 million through the Broadband, Utilities, and Infrastructure for Local Development Success initiative.

The grants target drinking water, wastewater and sewer projects with the goal of providing clean and safe water throughout the state.

The $93 million allocation is the first of the $250 million set aside by the legislature to use for water infrastructure. The funding for the effort came through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Middletown, the only Butler County entity so far approved for assistance, will receive $1.125 million, said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development.

“A good chunk of change,” she said, referring to the size of Middletown’s grant.

She said the state received 1,400 requests for grants totaling $1.3 billion. The projects were selected in hopes of helping communities reduce the financial burden residents bear to address “critical infrastructure,” she said.

On Wednesday, Mihalik and some of her staff met with Middletown city officials, water treatment plant executives and two council members, then toured the facility and walked outside to look at the lime lagoon.

City Manager Jim Palenick called the pump station “a high priority project” because it’s about reinvesting into the quality of life for residents.

Mihalik was told the water treatment plant relies on a repurposed rock quarry for the disposal of lime residuals and the backwash used to clean the plant’s filters.

The quarry, which started being used when the plant opened in 1971, has exceeded its capacity and became a nuisance issue for the nearby Smith Park and Middletown Regional Airport, city officials said.

Scott Belcher, plant manager, said the thought was when the lime was moved to the rock quarry 50 years ago, it was expected to hold the lime forever.

“Forever is now,” Tadych said with a laugh.

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