Huntington completes sewer separation project

The city of Huntington held a ribbon cutting ceremony near the City Buhilding on Tuesday, Dec. 15, to mark the completion of its storm water separation project
Photo by Matt Murphy.

The City of Huntington has completed the storm water separation project that has created construction zones on streets throughout the north side of the city during the summer and fall of this year.

The project separated storm water drains from sewer lines, and focused on three areas and the associated side streets: Division Street, State Street and Guilford Street downtown.

Jeff DeWitt, an engineer with Bonar Group -- the company that oversaw the project, says that the project is 95 percent complete and the only work left to do on the current projects is to mill and resurface some streets, which will be completed in the spring.

DeWitt says that the project was completed on schedule, despite a few setbacks, including hitting additional rock and inclement weather.

By separating the storm water lines from the sewer lines, overflow into the Little River during heavy rain events is limited, and the amount of sewage that gets into the Little River is significantly reduced to the point of being almost non-existent.

Also, storm water is also pretreated before it is released into the river, which reduces overall pollution.

"The storm water treatment device separates floating material, sediment and grease from getting into the river," DeWitt says.

The construction completed this fall is actually just the first phase of a larger plan to separate most of the city's sewer and storm water lines.

"At 15 points in the community, sewage overflow goes into Flint Creek and the Little River," says DeWitt. "When we're done, that won't happen anymore."

Four of the combined sewer and storm water overflow sites were closed as a result of the project, and engineers with the city and Bonar Group hope to close the rest over the next 15 to 20 years, at a projected cost of $65 million.

Eventually, all storm water will be taken to an equalization and treatment facility that is proposed to be built along the Wabash River on the south end of Huntington in an undeveloped area. This is projected to end sewer overflow into the Little River during heavy rain events, and will therefore clean up both the Little and Wabash rivers.

Huntington Common Council member Jack Slusser says that he has already seen crayfish and turtles returning to the river in light of the recent sewer project.