News Flash

Public Works

Posted on: November 15, 2023

What's happening at the Corner of Main and Manchester in Middletown?

An orange and white checkered Air Safety flag atop a crane flies 12 stories high, fully extended by a persistent north wind against a hard-blue afternoon sky. Below it, a hydraulic hammer strikes pilings into the ground – 40 feet down -- at the new construction site at Main Street and Manchester Avenue. Pound. Pound. Pound. The sound carries across town.

If you have been downtown lately, you have likely seen and heard the activity. This represents progress. The City of Middletown is preparing to install a 5 million-gallon storage reservoir on the 4-acre property and then build the city’s newest state-of-the-art public park. The pilings will frame the structure to provide support during construction.

Like many cities, Middletown is facing a crucial challenge – the need to comply with the federal Clean Water Act. The aim is to reduce the number of combined sewer overflows during heavy rain events. In 2018, the city took a significant step forward by negotiating with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a long-term control plan. The centerpiece of this plan is the storage reservoir.

The construction project involves constructing a concrete tank to temporarily store the combined sewer flow. When the sewer system becomes overwhelmed, this tank will capture the overflow, reducing the number of combined sewer overflow events from as high as 50 to an estimated six events per year, said Scott Tadych, the city’s Director of Public Works and Utilities.

“The storage tank will just hold it there for 24 or 48 hours. It slowly pumps it back to the main interceptor sewer line that goes to the wastewater treatment plant. And that way, we will significantly reduce the overflows into the hydraulic canal upstream of the river,” Tadych said.

The construction and operation of the tank do not impact day-to-day life in Middletown. The project's deadline is set for completion by the end of 2025 when federal directives require the reservoir to be operational.

The need for such a project is common for many older American cities. Middletown was founded in 1886 when environmental safety regulations were far from what they are today. Consequently, cities built their infrastructure with combined sewer systems, meaning waste and stormwater flowed through the same pipes. This design worked well until heavy rain events led to overflows into water bodies like the Great Miami River.

Now, let's talk about the exciting part – what the citizens of Middletown can look forward to when this project is completed. Above the buried storage tank, the City is investing in landscaping that will accommodate a park-like environment with an event lawn and walking trail.

As the city modernizes its infrastructure to meet the demands of today's environmental regulations, it's also investing in a vibrant new public space that promises to be a valuable asset for the community. So, the next time you pass by, remember that beneath the surface, something significant is happening to make our city a cleaner, more environmentally friendly place to live.

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