BUFFALO, NY—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District met with local sponsors in Parma, Ohio July 19, 2017 for a kickoff meeting regarding a sanitary relief system project to be constructed in a residential area near Broadrock Court in Parma (see VIDEO).
The Water Resources Development Act of 1999 (Public Law I 06-53), Section 594 provides the authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist with addressing environmental infrastructure problems throughout Ohio, with a total Federal authorized limit of $240 million for the program. Approximately $140 million has been appropriated to date. The law states that assistance may be provided for the design and/or construction of publicly owned water-related environmental infrastructure as well as resource protection and development projects.
“We’re very excited to have a great working relationship with the Army Corps of Engineers using Section 594”, said City of Parma Mayor Timothy DeGeeter. “It has brought wonderful benefits to our residents and businesses. We look forward to future projects and really appreciate the great partnership we have with the Army Corps of Engineers.”
The Section 594 program is a reimbursement program, whereby the federal government provides much-needed funding for projects, with 75 percent covered by the federal government and the local sponsor covering the remaining 25 percent. Requests for reimbursements for work performed are sent to the Corps of Engineers for processing and payment. In addition to the processing of reimbursements, the Corps also prepares the partnership agreement with municipalities and provides direct technical and environmental support during implementation.
“The Buffalo District has managed 54 projects totaling over $34 million to date and we have provided significant environmental infrastructure benefits to Ohio residents”, said Frank A. O’Connor, P.E., Senior Project Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District. “We have four active projects that are largely focused on addressing failing septic systems and the negative impacts to nearby surface water quality.” The amount of Section 594 funding for individual projects is generally in the range of $1-2 million and this can provide significant relief to taxpayers.
There is greater need across the state than annual Section 594 allotments can address and not all projects can be funded. Therefore, the Buffalo District works together with the Small Community Environmental Infrastructure Group (SCEIG) in Ohio in prioritizing projects each year for limited Section 594 funding. Once selected, negotiating and executing a Section 594 project partnership agreement (PPA) prior to construction is a fairly straightforward process, says O’Connor. The PPA outlines the responsibilities of the parties, defines the scope of work that will be cost shared, and sets up the reimbursement process.
“Section 594 funds can often be combined with other sources of financing to get important infrastructure work done”, said Hasmukh Patel, P.E., Assistant City Engineer, City of Parma. “Parma is the seventh largest city in Ohio and problems related to aging infrastructure are a significant challenge.”
Prior to the kickoff meeting for the newest project in Parma, Mr. Patel provided O’Connor and Lex Barker, Buffalo District project management specialist, a tour of a Section 594-funded project now under construction near Chevrolet Boulevard and Deborah Drive. Contractors on site are replacing aging and undersized sanitary and storm drain pipes to address complaints of flooding and sewer backups in the residential area. The project is expected to be completed by September 2017, said O’Connor.
The purpose of the newest Broadrock Court project is to provide a new sanitary line capable of serving nearby residences with septic systems that are failing and which are the subject of a U.S. EPA findings and order. Prior to construction, an environmental assessment (EA) will be prepared as required under the National Environmental Policy Act to assess the impacts of the project. The Corps of Engineers will post the EA document to allow for public and agency review and comment for a period of no fewer than 30 days.
The Buffalo District covers the northern part of the state and is one of four Corps districts administering Section 594 projects statewide. The other Districts that includes portions of Ohio are Huntington, Pittsburgh, and Louisville. For more detailed information on the program, interested parties may review the program Fact Sheet on the Buffalo District website. Communities interested in having their projects considered for funding are encouraged to start by contacting the SCEIG. More information can be found at: http://www.sceig.org.