YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A fix or solution to the water problem at Mill Creek Park is not going to come easily, or cheaply.
Mill Creek Park officials said Monday that they expect to re-open the park’s lakes some time next year but are still working to improve the park’s water pollution situation.
The lakes were closed to the public July 10 after a large amount of dead fish were found in Lake Newport. The cause was attributed to heavy rains in late June, which caused sewage to run into the lake, spiking E. coli levels for a short time.
To prevent the same from occurring again, park officials would have to reduce the water run-off coming into the park and fix the combined sewer overflows (CSO). That cost would be around extensive, according to Mill Creek Park Executive Director Aaron Young.
Young said the City of Youngstown has a $146 million plan to control combined sewer outflow, and it would cost $30 million to update the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
“It’s the right thing to do. That’s why you spend the money,” he said.
The city of Youngstown has to find that money within the next eight years to upgrade the sewer plant and stop those sewer overflows into the park’s bodies of water.
When the lakes reopen in 2016, they’ll probably be accompanied by warning signs next to the water.
“I think the emphasis on the advisories is to share what we’ve learned, which is the water quality there is subject to higher levels of E. coli within a certain period of rain,” Young said.
With no swimming allowed in the water, the only contact comes from getting into and out of a canoe, kayak or paddle boat. For fishers on the shore, they are OK as long as they cook the fish to 145 degrees to kill the bad bacteria.
“There shouldn’t be a concern, as long as you’re handling proper food safety,” said Mahoning County District Board of Health Director Ryan Tekac.
“Make sure that you’re washing those utensils, ’cause you could provide cross-contamination if you handle those utensils and then touch that fish that’s been cooked,” he added.