EPA warns village about waste water plant

SALINEVILLE – The village waste water treatment plant is not up to EPA standards, according to a letter from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is violating its National Pollutant Discharge Permit (NPDES).

The letter, presented Monday during the salineville Village Council meeting, states the village has 14 days to respond and present a plan how the village will address the plant’s issues. It also states that “past or present issues of noncompliance can continue as subjects of future enforcement actions by the Ohio EPA.”

The four page letter addresses the findings of EPA Environmental Engineer Joseph E. Trocchio, P.E., who visited the plant Jan. 28, and met with members of the Board of Public Affairs as well as plant operator Joe DeNiro. Trocchio’s letter lists 10 findings, mostly noting aspects of the plant that are not operating properly.

Major findings include an out of service communitor which grinds solids so they can pass through the system. Due to the malfunctioning communitor plant operators must screen solids manually with a bypass bar. Trocchio calls this method of screening away solids “marginally effective.”

As a result of the broken communitor “a great deal of solids are passing through to the aeration tank, clarifiers and sludge holding tank,” the letter states .

While the EPA is aware of the village’s financial issues and understands why the village cannot afford to repeatedly fix the pricy communitor, alternative methods should be sought to clear solids from the system, reads the letter.

Trocchio also states that a review of the waste water treatment plant’s discharge monitoring reports from January through December 2013 also turned up “significant violations.”

“There have been some suspended solids, ammonia and bacteria violations,” reads the letter. “The recent mercury violation is rather high and should be watched for ongoing violations,”

Attached to the letter was a chart listing 21 instances in which the plant was cited for “effluent violations” in 2013. Trocchio also notes that from December 2012 to January 2013 plant operators failed to submit monthly operating reports.

The village needs to start planning financially to replace the old equipment responsible for the plant’s violations, according to the EPA. The letter suggests the village contact the Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA).

Members of the village council were quick to point out the Board of Public Affairs, not the village council, oversees the operation of the waste water treatment plant. Board of Public Affairs President James Brammer, who attended Monday’s council meeting, was called before council to address the issues cited by the EPA. Brammer said that since the letter was sent to the mayor and village council, Monday was the first time he had seen the report. He told council the findings listed in the EPA letter were not new to him.

“It’s all the same complaints from letters (from the EPA) in the last three or four years, maybe even the last 10 years,” said Brammer. “Point being, nothing is going to change until the village gets some money.”

Brammer said he plans to contact the Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance and set up a meeting to see what can be done to fund equipment updates at the plant.

Mayor Mary Smith informed Brammer and council that the village will be receiving a $12,500 county grant for the waste water treatment plant. She says she applied for the grant herself about a year ago and expects the funds to be coming some time next month. She noted that this money will be able to address only some of the issues at the plant.

Brammer says he plans to set up a meeting with DEFA, the EPA, council and board of public affairs members to talk over possible solutions to the plant’s many issues.

” One step or one piece at a time, the plant has got to be brought back up (to compliance) or you’re going to keep getting paper work like this,” said Brammer.