Council gets positive reports on wastewater, water, stormwater

By Michael Seffrin - [email protected]

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

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

Sidney, with its large industrial base, handles wastewater flows from industry that would be expected from cities with larger populations, Barry Zerkle, wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) superintendent, said in his report. The city’s industrial pretreatment program is the fourth largest in southwest Ohio.

Despite this, Sidney’s WWTP operates with a staffing level of about 55-65 percent of other similar-sized treatment plants. The plant’s automated system helps the city maintain a lower staffing level, said Zerkle, who also praised the quality of the employees. “We have a dedicated staff,” he said.

Challenges the WWTP faces include discharges that exceed the permitted limit of industrial users. Zerkle said the city works closely with these industrial users to return to compliance.

The first phase of improvements to the WWTP is expected to begin in November. The second phase is scheduled for 2017 and will include replacement of older equipment.

In summary, Zerkle said the plant is operating very efficiently, with removal of pollutants above the rate required by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The water treatment plant (WTP) pumps an average of 2.7 million gallons per day (MGD) of finished water, said Jason Smith, WTP assistant superintendent. The plant has a design capacity of 7 MGD. It has a 10 MGD maximum tank structure design capacity. To reach the 10 MGD level, additional mixers and feeders would be required.

The amount of water the plant has needed to produce decreased from 3.3 MGD in 2012 to 2.93 MGD in 2014. Year-to-date, the average is 3.07 MGD. Smith said the reasons for the decrease include above-average snowfall and moderate to high rainfall (less watering of plants and lawns), and the city’s leak-detection program for water mains.

Challenges the WTP faces include drought and flooding, river contaminants and the new water source project. EPA regulations the WTP must deal with include a disinfection byproduct rule, which deals with the reaction of chlorine with organics to form carcinogens. Smith said the city’s new water source will have fewer organics because it is groundwater.

The WTP has some costly current and upcoming projects. A service lime sludge lagoon is needed so the primary lagoon can be cleaned and repaired. The total cost is estimated at $6.5 million. The new water source project has an estimated price tag of $23.5 million.

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 (NPDES) 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 distributing information to the public at events such as the Shelby County Fair.

Bruggeman said a warning usually is sufficient to stop illicit discharge of substances into storm drains. “So far, we’ve not had repeat offenders,” he said.

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 (inflow and infiltration) from sanitary sewers may place additional demands on storm sewer system; and the stormwater management plan is to be updated.

Bruggeman also reported on the city’s stormwater fee, which was implemented in 2007. It provides funding for the EPA stormwater program and stormwater maintenance expenses. Sidney’s fee is lower than five area cities. “We’re quite a bit less than anybody else,” he said. City Manager Mark Cundiff said the other cities may be using the fees to fund capital projects. which Sidney does not do.

By Michael Seffrin

[email protected]

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.