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.

Utilities Director Bill Blakely presented council with an update on the underground utilities and inflow and infiltration (I&I) infrastructure. The supervisors of the water treatment and waterwaste treatment plants and the storm water management program also presented annual reports at council’s workshop meeting.

The city of Sidney has 126.54 miles of sanitary sewer, 2,520 sanitary manholes, 1,674 sanitary inspection chambers and six city-owned pump stations, Blakely said. In 2020, 15,010 out of the Ohio EPA’s goal of 20,000 linear feet of city sanitary sewers were replaced or grouted. Forty-eight sanitary manholes were grouted, repaired or replaced last year; which was nearly three times higher than EPA’s goal of 17.

The city now owns 1,674 laterals out of the 9,171 located in the system. In areas one through six, properties are between 82 to 96% in compliance with inspections being completed, with only 37% of area seven in compliance. In areas one through four, 78% are in total I&I project compliance.

A total of 70,770 linear feet of sanitary mains and laterals were jet cleaned in 2020. Last year, Blakely said likely because people were home due to the pandemic, the city received a huge increase of calls, at 78, for issues with sanitary back ups. Only 1 in 4 of those calls required action from the city, he said.

“The majority of the sanitary sewer calls that were a city problem were due to surcharging during heavy rain events or with grease build up in the sewer main,” Blakely noted.

In 2020, the city conducted 4,743 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 14 water main breaks last year. Approximately 92.5% of the water main breaks within the last five years have been with cast iron pipes. The city had five ductile iron pipe breaks in 2020.

The city cleaned and inspected 5,721 catch basins last year, Blakely said. In 2020, 26 fire hydrants were repaired or replaced.

Regarding water connections, Blakely said as of the end of 2020 it was estimated of approximately 1,834 lead or potential lead water service lines are still in the city’s water system.

“The water distribution department is aggressively changing out these services and removed a total of 59 lead service lines in 2020,” he said.

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan asked if property owners are aware of whether or not their property has lead pipe lines. Blakely said he is unsure, but noted the city is actively working to change out those lines as staff becomes aware of them.

Council member Steve Wagner asked Blakely if property owners could obtain a separate water meter to measure water if filling a pool or using water for irrigation so they would not be charged the sewage fee associated with water usage. Blakely said on a temporary basis, a separate meter could be obtained for use once. He said residents continuously using water for something like lawn irrigation, they could purchase a meter, but water usage would need to be high to off-set the cost of the meter and savings from sewage costs.

Mayor Mike Barhorst asked if bills of those whose water was shut off during the pandemic are current and paid at this time. He was told 90-95% of those bills have been paid. Some local agencies stepped up and helped those in need, some residents caught their bills up and others were stuck with the property owners of their tenants who did not pay, Assistant Finance Officer Renee DuLaney said.

A report on the water treatment plant (WTP) was given by the plant superintendent Seth Epley. He said the plant pumps an average of 3.036 million gallons per day (MGD) of 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 2.90 MGD in 2016 to 3.09 MGD in 2020. Epley said the WTP has been operating at a five-year average of 44.9 % of capacity. Water main leaks, undetected service leaks and fire hydrant flushing, Epley said, are reasons for unmetered water loss.

He said with the current 7 MGD level, the plant could handle an additional eight facilities similar to Cargill, 13 more Freshway Foods or 34 additional facilities the size of Scroll Compressors.

In summary, Epley said based on the present structure of the treatment plant, Sidney’s capacity to supply water for many years is in very good shape. He said joining the city’s new water source with its present source will allow for future growth of industrial plants, as needed. He noted those facts makes Sidney more attractive to any resident or businesses wanting to locate here.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.