Sidney’s water operations OK for city growth

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney’s wastewater treatment, water treatment and stormwater management operations are in good shape and are capable of handling industrial growth, City Council was told Monday night.

Personnel from the three operations presented annual reports at council’s workshop meeting.

Utilities Director Bill Blakely presented council with an update on the underground utilities and inflow and infiltration (I&I) infrastructure.

Blakely said the city is above all Ohio EPA requirements for I&I lateral/sewers and sanitary sewer and manhole replacements or repairs. He noted the city of Sidney now owns 1,235 laterals out of the 9,140 located in the system. In areas one through three, 78 percent of properties are in compliance with inspections being completed.

In 2018, the city conducted 5,823 utility line locates for both sanitary, sewer and stormwater lines. He also detailed the inventory and maintenance of the storm water collection and distribution systems over the last year. There were 13 water main breaks last year. All of the water main breaks within the last five years have been with cast iron pipes. The city cleaned and inspected 2,663 catch basins, especially ahead of any anticipated heavy rain fall events, Blakely said. In 2018, 35 fire hydrants were repaired of replaced.

Barry Zerkle, wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) superintendent, said the plant is capable of handling the flow of several additional industrial facilities. Sidney’s large industrial base indicates the plant handles wastewater flows equal to that of a larger population than Sidney currently has, he noted.

Although the WWTP received no violations within the last three years, he recapped five violations received between 2014 and 2015.

Zerkle said they work diligently at the plant with all of the industrial users to achieve and maintain compliance of any discharged pollutants. He noted WWTP averages 18 enforcement actions per year.

“If (industrial users) can put dollars toward a known issue (with discharged pollutants) … we waive that fine if they can show they have spent that like money toward future compliance,” Zerkle said.

Based upon 2018 data, Sidney’s plant can handle enough wastewater flow for nine additional factories the size of Cargill and remove pollutants for seven additional facilities the size of Freshway Foods for 10 additional factories the size of Honda of America.

In summary, Zerkle said the plant continues to operate efficiently and effectively. He also pointed out that Sidney’s industrial base is the fourth largest in southwest Ohio, behind Cincinnati, Dayton and Butler County.

In stormwater management, Brent Bruggeman, stormwater management operator, said the city is required to conduct six minimum control measures to receive a five-year National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit: public education/outreach; public involvement/participation; illicit discharge detection/elimination; construction site stormwater runoff control; post-construction stormwater management; and pollution prevention/good housekeeping.

The public education effort included a billboard that reminded viewers that “storm drains are not garbage cans” and by distributing information to the public. He said they work to educate first time offenders who discharge illicit materials. It is usually sufficient.

Summarizing the city’s stormwater monitoring program, Bruggeman said the city is meeting all Ohio EPA requirements; enforcement has been accomplished through education rather than penalties; storm sewer mapping needs to be completed; future removal of clean water (I&I) from sanitary sewers may place additional demands on storm sewer system; and the stormwater management plan is to be updated.

He noted that despite the 90 cent stormwater fee increase implemented in 2018, the city of Sidney’s stormwater fee is still much lower than surrounding communities’ fees.

Ron Fauls, water treatment plant (WTP) superintendent, said the plant pumps an average of 3.1 million gallons per day (MGD) of finished water. The plant has a design capacity of 7 MGD. It has a 10-MGD maximum tank structure presently, but to reach the 10 MGD level, additional treatment equipment would be required.

The amount of water the plant has needed to produce has ranged from 2.93 MGD in 2014 to 2.96 MGD in 2018. Fauls said the WTP is currently operating at 42.3 percent of capacity. Inaccurate or dead water meters, water main leaks, undetected service leaks and fire hydrant flushing or fire fighting, Fauls said, are reasons for unmetered water loss.

He said with the current 7 MGD level, the plant could handle an additional five facilities similar to Cargill, 14 more Freshway Foods or 14 additional facilities the size of Emerson.

In summary, Fauls said Sidney is in very good shape for producing water for many years to come. He said joining the city’s new water source with its present source will allow for future growth of industrial plants, as needed. These facts makes Sidney more attractive to any resident of business wanting to locate here, he said.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.