Athens City Council met Monday to pass an ordinance to apply for CARES Act funding for a wastewater surveillance program.

Athens will be applying for $81,200 in CARES Act funding from CDBG-CV in order to create wastewater surveillance programs across Athens to add to the existing wastewater surveillance program in place. 

Councilmember Sarah Grace, D-At Large, said increasing the amount of wastewater surveillance that the city can do would allow for a better understanding of where possible COVID-19 spikes may happen in Athens.

“If we were able to get this grant, we would be able to … possibly predict spikes down to neighborhood areas or smaller regions rather than just knowing ‘Hey, somewhere in the city, we have increasing numbers coming,‘” Grace said.

Grace also said Athens will be coordinating with •Ohio University to increase wastewater surveillance. 

Athens currently has one sampling site in the wastewater treatment plant and is planning on adding three more sites at the Richland Avenue station, the Depot Street Lift Station and a manhole at Home Street, Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said OU is looking to add five more sampling sites. 

Council also discussed allowing the mayor to execute a settlement agreement with the Athens City Fraternal Order of Police for a grievance that police officers made with the City of Athens regarding emergency pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The settlement agrees to pay 60 hours of full-time pay to all employees within the police union who worked a majority of their hours in 2020 during the pay periods of eight, nine and 10.

Councilman Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, believes that settlement is a good way to move forward with the upcoming police contract renewal on a clean slate.

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