County hears plan to double sewer capacity
The Union County Board of Commissioners heard an update on plans to double capacity at its main waste water treatment plant.
Union County Public Works Director Ed Goscicki gave commissioners an overview of the Twelve Mile Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant expansion project. Before the county can being construction, it needs a permit from state and federal agencies.
Right now, Twelve Mile Creek WWTP has a capacity of about 6 million gallons per day and servies most of the county’s western residents. In the water and sewer masterplan adopted last year, the county began planning an expansion that would open capacity to areas of the county south of Monroe. The expansion would increase capacity first to 9 million gallons per day and eventually to 12 million gallons per day, Goscicki said.
“This requires an N.P.D.E.S. permit, a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, from the federal government that is administered through the state, Goscicki said. “The state has a state environmental policy act...which closely mirrors the national environmental policy act. And that requires for a program of this size and nature that we go through an environmental assessment before they will issue a permit.”
The county must study and estimate what impacts such a project will have on the surrounding areas. The project will have primary and secondary impacts, Goscicki said. The study looks at everything from additional treated water flow back into streams to risk of sewer overflow to how more capacity will allow more development in the area to long-term cumulative effects.
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If the study shows no signifigant primary impact, the regulatory environmental agencies will review it. But the trickier bit will be secondary impacts to the local environment. A larger sewer capacity is capable of supporting more buildings. If there are too many impervious surfaces in a watershed, stormwater runoff becomes a major problem for erosion and pollution.
The permitting process includes stating a plan to mitigate water pollution, floodplain controls and other watershed problems. Union County proposed several ideas for lessening the environmental impact which were favorably received by state agencies. The region is home to a federally endangered species of sunflowers. State regulations require the county to do sunflower impact studies on any new development near the plant’s habitat. Thankfully, the county proposed plans to do studies only for major developments and the state agreed to the terms. The state also agreed to allow county officials to install stream buffers and set-backs to control run-off.
With preliminary plans made, the next step is to submit to state and federal agencies a statement of intent that the county intends to follow the plan. Goscicki said he needed the board’s consensus to begin the months-long permitting process to begin.