By Sue Botos
Although the city sent out 1,300 notices, only a handful of residents attended last week’s public hearing on phase one of the Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Survey (SSES).
Mayor Pam Bobst told the group the major objective of the study would be the identification of storm sewers which allow water to drain into the sanitary sewers, causing flooding. She said that, originally, 14 of these overflows existed in the city and that all had been corrected except for two.
Three of the city’s 14 sewersheds will be involved in the study, two located near the Rocky River and Lake Erie (numbers 4 and 5) and one serving an area bordered mainly by Wagar and Wooster Roads, and Hilliard and Center Ridge Roads.
“It’s important for us to create an awareness. This takes the environment as well as our needs into consideration,” said Bobst.
Bobst explained that the Ohio EPA has mandated the survey, and that failure to comply could result in fines, including jail time. Earlier in the year, she said that the city submitted a Capacity Management Operation and Maintenance (CMOM) plan to the Ohio EPA, which outlined the city’s plan for compliance. Bobst said that the submission was well received.
David McCallops, URS Corporation project manager, told the group the US EPA wanted the job completed in one year, but the project managers and the city were able to get the time stretched to four years. He said that work began in June and will continue through November. A report on the findings is due to the US EPA by the end of December.
“This will identify deficiencies in public and private properties,” said McCallops adding that both property types contribute equally to overflow problems in the city. While all of the city sewersheds will eventually be addressed, McCallops said those with overflow issues are being tackled first. He added that the cost of the project would be covered by grants as well as the city sewer fund, which generates $700,000 annually.
Manager of field operations Scott Betz added that the study would consist of manhole inspection, which is now underway, and dye testing of main sewer lines and those connecting residences and commercial businesses to the main line. He said that the dye testing will begin within a week and involves “simulating rainfall” by adding water to downspouts, then adding dye and monitoring the outcome on cameras installed in the sewers.
“We won’t need to come into your home,” Belz assured the group.
Belz said that closed circiut TV monitoring and cleaning of sewers will be provided by AAA Flexible Pipe, and that “sewer modeling” based on survey findings will identify additional problems and assist with recommendations, which must be presented to the EPA.
“The EPA is looking not only at what improvemetnts will be made, but how fast,” he stated.
Addressing several issues of concern to the residents, McCallops said that much of the work would be done in the public right of way, with trucks causing minor traffic disruptions. He said working hours would fall as much as possible during slower traffic times, and workers will always report their whereabouts to the city. Those workers as well as their vehicles will also be properly identified. according to McCallops.
Feilding residents’ questions, McCallops said that while identification of overflow sources is the purpose of the study, other problems, if discovered, would be addressed.
“If we find something catastrophic, we will contact the city,” he said, adding that any issues will be prioritized, and not necessarily corrected immediately.
Safety Service Director Jim Linden answered one resident’s question regarding what she felt was a “river” of water rushing down Gasser Boulevard during heavy rains. Linden explained that restrictors have been placed in the sewers to keep the water on the street and out of homes and yards.
Ward 4 Councilman John Shepherd, whose ward includes sewershed 12, told West Life after the meeting that residents are responsible for the cost of fixing sewers on their property. He added that those with storm water entering the sanitary system are probably unaware, due to the underground connection.
Bobst added, “Once the evaluation is completed, we will work with residenst to finds low or no cost ways to correct the problem. We can’t have downspouts emptying into the street.”