By Sue Botos
Rocky River officials are hoping overflowing sanitary sewers will soon be water under the bridge.
City council heard a presentation at its last session from representatives of URS Corporation detailing plans for phase one of the city’s sanitary sewer evaluation survey (SSES). This portion will deal with three of the city’s 14 sewersheds which are reporting overflows. By mandate from the USEPA, plans must be in place for correction of these overflows by Dec. 30.
David McCallops, URS senior project manager for water resources, said this is the first of a four-part study designed to identify leaks that allow clean water into the sanitary system, causing the overflows. Solutions will be presented at the conclusion of the study.
“This will be a four-year project,” said McCallops. “Originally, the EPA wanted it done in one year. We were able to convince them to give us more time,” he said. Two areas in “Tangletown” north of Detroit Road and a third in the area of Westway Drive/Hampton Road will be studied.
“We’re going to identify the private and public sources of clean water”, stated McCallops. These include downspouts, yard drains, driveway cracks and other areas that leak into, or are directly connected to, the sanitary sewer system.
“It was common to have clean water getting into the sanitary sewers at one time,” he said. The practice was discontinued after the Clean Water Act of 1972.
“Nothing was grandfathered in,” he continued.
Components of the project were presented by field operations manager Scott Belz, who said the work would begin with public outreach, which will consist of two public meetings, one at the beginning of the work, and another during the job.
“This gets the residents involved and gives us their input,” said Belz, adding that residents will be told what to expect during the process, and then be informed of findings.
Belz continued that manhole inspection, mainline and residential dye testing will also be conducted to identify sources of infiltration by rainwater. Mainline testing involves water from fire hydrants to simulate storm conditions. Dye is then added to determine if leaks occur between storm and sanitary sewers.
A similar process will be used with residential downspouts, according to Betz, in which water will be added to downspouts to simulate rainfall. “All testing is done outside the house,” Belz assured council, expecting that 1,300 homes are to be tested. Closed circuit television will be used to monitor the work.
McCallops said the information will be used to form a computer model, which will then be presented to the USEPA. “This is the most critical part. We have to come up with the projects and costs, then submit them to the EPA,” he said. The city has budgeted $607,330.40 for the work, which will be paid by Sanitary Sewer Fund’s Professional Services Account.
Responding to councilmembers’ questions about a time frame, McCallops said that work should begin in May, with most of the field studies concluded by late August or September. “We don’t want to be rushed in our analyzing and doing the report,” he stated.