By JOYELL NEVINS
Record Herald Editor
Courtesy of the Weekly Record Herald; Printed 3/30/12
WEST MILTON – The village of West Milton has a problem. The average flow of water through their wastewater treatment plant should be 400-500,000 gallons a day. The actual flow is 900,000 to 1 million gallons a day. That means that an excess of groundwater and rainwater is seeping into the system. The disproportionate amount of water got the attention of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during their annual audit.
“The EPA has spoke, and we have to fix it,” Utilities Supervisor Tim Swartzauber told council at Tuesday’s workshop.
This flow discrepancy is called an Infiltration and Inflow, or I&I, problem. According to Swartzauber, infiltration is water other than wastewater which enters a sewer system, including sewer service connections and foundation drains, from the ground through defective pipes, pipe joints, bad connections, and manholes. Inflow is water other than wasterwater that comes from down spouts, cellar drains, yard drains, manhole covers, cross connections between storm sewers and sanitary sewers, surface runoff and sump pumps. He said the I&I makes for overflows in the plant’s equalization basin and overall poor treatment performance.
“The collection system cannot handle the excessive flows,” Swartzauber said.
The EPA gave the village a Schedule of Compliance of 53 months to get their I&I fixed. The original timeline was 48 months to stem the excess. Swartzauber appealed for an additional two years to rectify the problem, and was granted an extra five months.
The first step in the fixing process is to get a good base map.
“We need to know what we do have underground,” Municipal Manager Matt Kline said.
The cataloging of manholes, sump pumps and laterals comes from GPS satellite analysis. Swartzauber researched three different options, which range from approximately $75,000 through Underground Utility Services to $12,000 with a vocational program (similar to on-the-job training) with the Operator Training Committee of Ohio. An official proposal will be offered to council in April.
“I’m ready to get going on this project,” Swartzauber said.
Once the entire system is mapped, then Swartzauber and his crew will start budgeting projects and knocking on doors. Because of how the lines were installed 20 years ago, it’s possible a new stormsewer system will be needed, noted Supervisor of Streets & Grounds Ben Herron. It’s more likely that many residents will have to fix their sump pump systems so as to not leech water into the main lines.
“Let’s be proactive in letting people know,” Councilwoman Susan Willis encouraged the utility staff.
As the problem is more honed in, residents will be informed via handbills or mailings and through local newspapers. Although Swartzauber wants to get started mapping in the next couple of months, it could take years to get the complete water system budgeted and fixed. Swartzauber said the ultimate goal is to get down to 500,000 gallons a day flowing through the plant.
“If we get 50 percent of the gallons cut, I’ll be happy,” Swartzauber said, “But I want to get under 500,000.”
Once the I&I issue has been completely resolved, Kline notes that the city and the residents will be saving money.
“This will save us money. Not only the municipal operations, because we will be treating less wastewater, but it will save our residents money too, because by lowering our costs of operations, we can pass those savings on by less increases in costs or more time between increases,” he said.