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Covington to Explore Departure from Sanitation District Storm Water System

Facing angry constituents lamenting the flooding of their basements after the heavy rains of two weekends ago, the Covington city commission announced on Monday that it would explore leaving the storm water program operated by the regional Sanitation District 1. 

"We as a commission have been discussing this for months now because of other areas in the city as well as yours, and we are at the point where we believe it is appropriate for us to explore withdrawing from the Sanitation District for the purpose of storm water," Mayor Joe Meyer said at City Hall. More than a dozen residents of the Peaselburg neighborhood spoke to the commission about the sewer backups in basements of homes primarily on Euclid Avenue.

Meyer said the city would stay with SD1 for sewer service. 

"Let's see what the implications are," he said. "We don't understand all of what that involves but that is certainly something the commission has been discussing before tonight."

On Thursday, the City of Covington announced a $650,000 project to create more detention ponds to service the impacted part of the city, the result of a federal grant awarded to the city after it applied for one in 2016, Meyer said. SD1's board of directors voted to cover the local match costs, $137,500, and roughly $100,000 for design work. Construction will begin next year, the city said in a news release at the time.

"So when those projects get underway in another year or so, the sanitation district will finally be investing some money to improve the storm water flow in our area," Meyer said. "They don't treat us the same as they treat other parts of the community, and you all are example number one."

Other members of the city commission told residents that the city is listening and looking for a permanent fix. 

"The comments you are saying are not falling on deaf ears," said Commissioner Tim Downing, who noted that he lived in Falmouth during the flood of 1997 that ravaged that Pendleton County city. "At the end of the day we are trying to figure out how to address the problem in the future and now."

Commissioner Shannon Smith said that flooding issues in Covington is one of the reasons she sought a seat at City Hall.

"And one of those things that has been part of our commission's priority recently is to make sure we're doing everything we can to address the issue," she said. "We do have skin in the game, we do care. It's not falling on deaf ears. I'm in the boat with you and I'm committed to finding a resolution with you."

Commissioner Michelle Williams called the Peaselburg situation "heartbreaking" and "heart-wrenching".

"At least for the last ten years I've been on your side. I've been fighting with SD1," Williams said. "They do not like to see me coming into that building."

Commissioner Denny Bowman, who has lived on Euclid Avenue since 1971 and also suffered through multiple bouts of flooding, said that he made changes to his home after floods in 2013 that cost his insurance company $30,000. He said there was no flooding at his home this time, but there was sewage back-up.

"A couple more ponds, a couple more catch basins won't solve the problem," Bowman said. "The only thing that is really going to help, Covington needs bigger storm sewers down 75 to Euclid, all the way down to the river. We're talking big bucks."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo via City of Covington