Lydia Mihalik, Director of the Ohio Department of Development stopped by the Meander Water Treatment Plant Tuesday afternoon to announce a $500,000 grant, a small portion of a cost that is expected to impact many local residents.

The funds will be given to House District 63 Rep. Mike Loychik and Senate District 32 Sen. Sandra O'Brien for rehabilitation to a 3,500 foot earthen dam on the Meander Reservoir. The dam is used to store water for the 91-year-old Meander Water Treatment Plant.  

"It really is an investment in the quality of life in the Mahoning Valley and all over the state in infrastructure projects that really matter," Mihalik said to 21 News. "It's an investment in clean water, which is something we can really all appreciate."

An engineer from the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District said the current treatment plant is so old that it did not meet the standards and requirements to pass a probable maximum flood. The station would not likely survive if 24-hour-rainfall impacted the area. That could leave 220,000 Mahoning and Trumbull County residents left without water.

The engineers estimated the entire project will cost $43 million dollars. They say the state's grant will be just a sliver of the total cost. The district is currently writing an application to FEMA in hopes of receiving $30 million in federal money to assist in building the project. 

They also hope to make people in the community aware of the project so that less funding comes directly from taxpayer dollars and from the pockets of residents who rely on the plant for their water supply.

The project would move along quicker if the district received the FEMA grant and are given most the majority of funds needed at once.

"If we received those grants, the cost would be very minimal to our customers," said Mike McNinch, Chief Engineer for the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District. "There might be some cost associated with normal utility expenses, electric, gas and chemicals but the $40 million price tag will go away."

The plan to upgrade the plant came after inspection in 2014. The official new design was finished in 2020 helping updates to move along now.

Gov. DeWine's office said the project will construct a new auxiliary spillway and install anchors into the dam foundation, flatten downstream embankments, upgrade dam-related instrumentation, electric service, lighting and replace east and west dam access roads.

"We are bringing the dam up to 2022 technology and 2022 construction standards," McNinch said. "The dam will be strengthened and improved."

The dam rehabilitation project is expected to begin November 1, 2022.