Review of Sidney’s water operations continued

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — During a presentation Monday night on the city of Sidney’s wastewater treatment and stormwater management operations Sidney City Council learned the city’s stormwater coordinator won two awards for his good work.

Gregg Mitchell, Sidney wastewater industrial pretreatment (IPP) coordinator, recently was awarded the 2020 Ohio Water Environment Association (OWEA) Laboratory Analyst Award, as the 2020 awards ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic, and the 2021 Water Environment Federation (WEF) Laboratory Analyst Excellence Award.

Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Superintendent Barry Zerkle informed City Council of Mitchell’s awards when introducing him for his stormwater presentation. Members gave him a round of applause and congratulated Mitchell on his honors.

In stormwater management, Mitchell said the city is required to conduct six minimum control measures to receive a five-year National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPSES) 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 includes a billboard reminding viewers “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.

The public involvement includes, five activities during the permit term, a “Clean Sweep” of the Great Miami River, education by Shelby County Soil and Water Conservation District for school children, and the labeling of 72 storm drains by the Cub Scouts, Mitchell said.

Regarding construction site runoff control, he said they attempt to control site erosion and control sediment, review site plans, and conduct site inspections. Currently five sites are being inspected. The city also works to manage post construction stormwater management with best management practices.

A stormwater fee was implemented in 2007 at $.083 ERU/month to provide funding for the EPA stormwater phase II program and stormwater maintenance expenditures. It greatly reduced the income tax subsidy from the city’s general fund, his report showed. The fee gradually increased over the years to $2.27 ERU/month in 2021, which pays for stormwater maintenance, monitoring and capital projects. His report showed Sidney’s fee is still less than Celina, at $3.05; Piqua, at $3.41; and Troy, at $4.82.

During the update on the WWTP, Zerkle said the plant’s average daily flow is currently at 70% capacity at 4.92 million gallons per day (MGD). The treatment plant received one violation in 2020 for suspended solids loading. There were two blending events in 2020. He also provided a recap of any plant violations received or blending events since 2016.

Blending is routing excess flows of stored wastewater in the plant’s treatment processes and recombining this excess flow with final treated wastewater before discharging it to the river, which can occur during elevated flow events, he explained.

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 issued 31 enforcement actions last year, but in lieu of a fine, they preferred the customer to show how they would correct the issue.

“We are big fans of holding fines at bay until waving those, if there was an (industrial users) piece of equipment that failed and they got a replacement cost. We will waive that fine in lieu of fixing what that was,” Zerkle said. “At the end of the day, we like to work very well with our industry.”

Based upon 2021 data, Sidney’s plant can handle enough wastewater flow for four additional factories the size of Cargill or for seven additional facilities the size of Freshway Foods.

In summary, Zerkle said the plant continues to operate very well and efficiently. He also pointed out Sidney’s industrial base is the fourth largest in southwest Ohio.

City Manager Mark Cundiff praised the work of the supervisors of the water plants. He shared hearing positive feedback from industry plant managers about how they feel they have a partner in Sidney water operators. Mayor Mike Barhorst echoed Cundiff’s sentiment.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.