The Cedar Hills neighborhood, located in eastern Daviess County, will have their sewer lines connected to a new treatment plant through the Regional Water Resource Agency (RWRA), meaning the 125 homes in that community will soon experience higher bills, excavation of their land and at least a year’s worth of construction in their vicinity.
This re-routing of the community’s sewage has caused some controversy among those who live in the area. In fact, at least two households have refused to agree to the easement of their property, which lies in the path of the construction zone.
Owensboro Times reached out to the legal representation of one of those homeowners who declined to comment.
Executive Director Joe Schepers spoke to members of the Cedar Hills community Tuesday night at Country Heights Elementary School, where the plan to re-route the sewer lines was discussed. Schepers told the crowd of at least 200 people that this construction project was slated to begin Aug. 5 and would run through the summer of 2020.
The Cedar Hills subdivision was previously serviced by a privately-owned packaging plant. The former owner of the plant found himself losing money every day, Schepers said, prompting his abandonment of the facility. The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) took over operations thereafter. By summer of 2020, Cedar Hills Sanitation Disposal Corporation, LLC will be dissolved, Schepers said, and RWRA will take over from there.
RWRA faced three options when taking on the Cedar Hills neighborhood — force people to abandon their homes, rebuild the packaging plant or extend the line from the regional water agency.
RWRA’s Sean O’Bryan said the current facility is very outdated, and that replacing it would be more expensive than to redirect the lines.
“We looked at completely replacing it, but the cost of that and the additional maintenance on top of that–we’d rather get it into our existing system,” he said. “It’s easier for us to maintain it that way.”
Since turning the packaging plant over to the public, customers’ sewage bills have gone up significantly from the $15 per month they were paying the private owner. Schepers said customers will continue to see increased monthly bills of $55 until RWRA officially takes over, at which point customers can expect to pay $110 a month.
According to information distributed at Tuesday’s meeting, “costs to provide service include legal fees, property and/or easement acquisition, engineering costs, construction costs and other-related project costs.”
Though monthly bill estimates were announced, no set monthly cost will be determined until the project has been completed. MAC Construction & Excavating will be performing construction on the sewer lines, and those costs will feed into customers’ monthly bills.
The project will start at Countryside neighborhood, next to CHES, and a sewage line will run along the ditch lining Highway 54, cross the highway and field on the other side, and run to the newly constructed sewage plant.
Those who have been holding out on the easement — which gives RWRA and MAC the right-of-way to run lines through properties and perform construction — are expected to soon turn their properties over, according to sources from RWRA.
“My understanding is that they’re filing in the next couple of days,” O’Bryan said. “Daviess County Fiscal Court is working on that right now.”
In the wake of the community’s failed package plant, it took months of careful study for RWRA to determine re-routing the sewage lines would be the best possible option for Cedar Hills. O’Bryan said while there is always a worry that the current package plant could fail before the lines get transferred to the new plant — in which the sewage would have to be pumped out the lines and transferred to RWRA’s treatment plant — the concern isn’t too high.
“That’d be the worst-case scenario,” O’Bryan said. “Or you could actually have a temporary package plant hauled in. That’d be a pretty big expense.”