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City Council moves on legislation to standardize wastewater plant regulations

Rocky River

By Sue Botos

In order to comply with mandates set by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, City Council has passed a trio of ordinances updating language and enforcing standards regarding pollution control at the Rocky River wastewater treatment plant.

Councilman at Large Dave Furry, sponsor of the measures, explained at a recent council meeting that the plant received a conditional renewal of its NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit last summer. As a requirement of this renewal, Rocky River is to be named the “controlling jurisdiction” due to the plant’s location within city boundaries. The other three cities that utilize the facility, Bay Village, Fairview Park and Westlake, are to be named “contributing jurisdictions.” Furry said that this “multijurisdictional agreement” must be acted upon by the city councils of each municipality, and has been reviewed by the law directors of each city.

The four cities have shared use and operational costs of the wastewater treatment plant since 1982.

According to the legislation, all of the communities involved must have a separate sewer use ordinance, which must be amended to reflect uniform standards and gives the control authority (Rocky River) the power to enforce these regulations. “This gives the city a little more teeth,” commented Furry.

The second ordinance adds “control authority” language to the current codified ordinance and revises other descriptions. Notably, verbiage including the term “best management practices” or BMP, has been included. This refers to activities and regulation regarding the pretreatment of waste. The measure also differentiates between domestic and industrial waste.

The last of the three pieces of legislation updates an existing codified ordinance governing pre-treatment, specifically, commercial dischargers using the wasterwater treatment plant.

Furry explained this gives the city authority for “enforcement remedies” should an actual or threatened situation involving a discharger present itself. The legislation defines a discharger as a nondomestic facility utilizing the plant. Furry said this chapter needed to be replaced because all four communities are required by the Ohio EPA to have the same language, verbiage and subsections.

These mandates will actually save each city money, according to Furry, by giving responsibility for discharger monitoring to plant personnel rather than asking each community to keep tabs on individual dischargers. Presently, Furry said that Westlake is the only city utilizing the Rocky River plant that monitors its own dischargers.

Plant Superintendent Jeff Harrington, when reached for comment, said that while these measures had been in place, the legislation gives the city oversight. “They (Ohio EPA) wanted more concise language to show where the control will come from,” he stated. He added that while the city does not own the pipes containing discharge from the other cities, “we’re concerned with what’s in them.” He added that this legislation will help avoid situations such as the one in Strongsville, where the release of toxic materials into the Rocky River resulted in a massive fish kill.

 

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