Last updated: April 06. 2014 8:41PM - 616 Views
By William Laney wlaney@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — Lima Public Works Director Howard Elstro says the city continues to strive each year to meet the six minimum control measures established by the federal Environment Protection Agency’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit process created in 1972.

Elstro, who is expected to give his annual report for the Public Works Department in 2013 during Monday’s Lima City Council meeting, identified the six minimum control measures as public education and outreach, public participation and involvement, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site runoff control, post-construction runoff control, and pollution prevention and good housekeeping.

“They have allowed us to ease into this and some of these items they have been more forceful than others,” Elstro said during a Public Works Committee meeting held last week. “Each year, they pay us a visit both physically and through written correspondence and they ask us and telling us how to meet the requirements and the fact they are rising the bar and to make sure we are in compliance.”

During 2013, $2.08 million was collected by the utility for the program with about 34 percent from residential consumers and 66 percent from commercial consumers.

“I have to tell you that is the biggest benefit for the stormwater utility that I see,” Elstro said. “For so many years I sat in this chair and people have called up and said they have a flooding problem and it’s in the springtime or the fall and why doesn’t the city do something and it was because we had a lack of resources. Now we have real funds coming in and we have people on staff who can figure this out.”

Expenditures totaled $2.12 million with $770,305 for capital projects including $465,755 for infrastructure upgrades.

Two of the larger projects including $77,371 for State Issue I various resurfacing and $75,654 for municipal parking lot improvements.

A total of $213,382 was expended for equipment used for cleaning and maintaining stormwater systems, with $166,974 for a street sweeper.

Elstro explained the Allen Soil and Water Conservation District handles the city’s public education and outreach as well as the public participation and involvement requirements. He said the Allen SWCD helps by leveraging state funds with 81 percent coming from the state for city stormwater projects.

He said the city’s Engineering Division investigates illicit discharge to the city storm sewer system. In 2013 they conducted five investigations with most resulting in immediate action.

The city Engineering Division also helps with construction site runoff and post-construction runoff, while the Streets Department works on pollution prevention and good housekeeping.

Looking to the future, Elstro expects the total maximum daily load of the Ottawa River to add additional responsibilities to the city’s stormwater utility.

“The total maximum daily load is a plan that is created to estimate the total load of a specific pollutant to a particular impaired water source,” Elstro said, noting phosphorus and total suspended solids will be the focus of the EPA. “The point is to estimate the amount of pollutant the river can withstand, calculate the necessary reductions to reach that point and then distribute the requirements for pollutant reductions to various areas throughout the watershed. The efforts that are currently underway will enable the city to comply with future requirements.”

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