Council hears I&I program update

By Sheryl Roadcap - [email protected]

SIDNEY — An update on city of Sidney inflow and infiltration (I&I) program was presented at Sidney City Council’s meeting Monday evening.

Utilities Director Bill Blakely led a discussion on the need to delay the program for another year during the hybrid-teleconference meeting. He said the need for the postponement was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of non-compliant litigations for lateral inspections and repairs that have compiled.

Blakely reminded council members the residential/commercial/industrial I&I reduction program began in 2013, starting with program area 1 of 21 segmented areas throughout the city of Sidney. Studies have shown, he said, over 70% of sewer laterals from residential, commercial and industrial properties contribute flows with inflow or infiltration that cause undue burden on the public treatment works. This program was endorsed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to reduce sanitary overflows in the city’s sewer system as part of the National Pollutant Discharge System (NPDES) permitting of the wastewater treatment plant.

All homes in program area 1 (2014) are now compliant with the city’s requirements. Ninety percent of homes in program area 2 (2015), 71% of homes in program area 3 (2016), 65% of homes in program area 4 (2017), 43% of homes in program area 5 (2018), 50% of homes in program area 6 (2019) and 22% of homes in program area (2020) are compliant.

Property owners are given one year, from May 1, 2020 to April 3, to 2021, to have a video inspection performed on their sanitary sewer lateral and turned into the I&I department for inspection of issues of clean water connection or infiltration. If repair or replacement is warranted, the property owner has two additional years to complete the necessary repairs or replacement. Failing to meet these deadlines subjects the property owner to litigation which allows the city of Sidney to have the work performed and the costs assessed to the property.

Presently, Blakely said, due to previous delays in taking residents to court and COVID delays in 2020, the city is behind in litigation by three years. In order to catch up, staff recommended amending the I&I program schedule.

City staff is presently working through forced inspections and repairs for area 2 (2015), and inspections for area 3 (2016). This will be followed by forced repairs in area 3 and forced inspections and litigation for repairs in area 4 (2017) by the end of 2022. Areas 5 (2018) and 6 (2019) will follow in order to be completed in 2023 to bring us up to date. Area 7 should have inspections completed by April 30, 2023, and those which are non-compliant will be litigated as well in 2023.

Blakely told council members the postponement will allow the city to get a better handle on contracting needed inspections and repairs and have the costs assessed to the properties. It will also allow time to eliminate any further standstill in the program. The Ohio EPA has been contacted and approved the proposed deadline changes.

Mayor Mike Barhorst asked Blakely why the back-log of issues were not addressed earlier. Blakely then provided a past overview of the process and several reasons for the periodic holdups.

After a call for public comments, Windsor Park resident Glen Schwarzman, asked if the city performed maintenance on local retention basins so they drain out properly, to which Blakely said the city does perform regular maintenance on city-owned basins. He noted some basins are privately owned and are the responsibility of those property owners. Schwarzman was told the city would investigate the situation with the drainage near his property and report back findings to him.

Council members agreed it made sense to get the litigation caught up and directed Blakely to amend the program schedule as he had proposed.

By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.