Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017
Utility chief plans steps to halt floods
By Ed Gebert
ST. MARYS - City residents may be required to allow city workers access to their homes to ensure sanitary sewer connections are proper.
Jeff Thompson, superintendent of water and sewer service, gave his recommendations Monday at a meeting of the streets and sidewalks committee. That meeting followed a city council meeting last month at which about a dozen city residents came out to complain about flooding in areas of the city.
Thompson admitted that the incident in July was rare in the city, but it was complicated by the failure of an overflow system at the city's southwest pump station. His first solution to implement is to install a backup system with a float to continue pumping if the pumps fail to operate properly. That step is being planned in cooperation with the engineering office.
Beyond installing a float system for the pump station where much of the July flooding hit, Thompson recommended a crackdown on residences with illegal storm sewer hookups. He stated that many homes in St. Marys had hookups which had been legal decades ago but are no longer lawful and could overwhelm the sanitary sewer system.
Noted were homes with downspouts, footer tile or sump pumps connected to the sanitary sewer. Thompson said that he had reviewed the city ordinances and that law director Kraig Noble has been asked to review the legislation to ensure the city has the right to inspect private residences to detect illegal hookups.
Mayor Patrick McGowan confirmed that the matter had been referred to Noble for his legal opinion.
Thompson stated that eliminating these illegal hookups would greatly help the city's wastewater systems, especially during extreme rains such as in July. He noted that council members and administrators would need to decide upon any further action.
He also noted that the planned reconstruction of Spring Street will also help the situation. The project will include increasing the size of pipes from the current 10-inch and 12-inch lines to 15-inch pipe throughout. Work on that project could begin this winter.