Online stormwater course provides insight into EL plight

EAST LIVERPOOL — A recent online class taken by East Liverpool’s safety-service director and his deputy turned out to be a real eyeopener, a city council committee learned Tuesday afternoon.

Brian Allen recently completed an online American Stormwater Institute class with Rick Rudibaugh and relayed to the Refuge, Recycling and Utilities committee that his biggest takeaway of the 16-hour course was “the amount of contamination going into the storm water leads to our drinking water as well.”

During the committee’s meeting, the safety-service director informed that he and Rudibaugh took the ASI course that was offered to entities in Ohio, like the city of East Liverpool, although it was not mandated.

He described the city’s flooding issues are not necessarily uncommon elsewhere in the state.

“Here the township water flows downhill to East Liverpool, which has a 50 to 100-year-old infrastructure. It is just not built to handle the newer development,” Allen told committee members, adding that due to the geographic issues in the State of Ohio, the instructor said he was surprised that the state doesn’t regulate townships in regards to their stormwater issues due to the prevalence here.

The committee, which is made by Brian Kerr, Scott Barrett and John Mercer, also learned that the Ohio EPA has plans to start having municipal systems to start testing for sediments, oil and gas in their stormwater. Right now, all stormwater flows with no oversight but he anticipates that ending soon.

As Allen explained, the situation isn’t hopeless. “With certain discharge levels, (if city officials) report it to the EPA, they will talk to individual (offending) property owners. We have less frequent storms but they are more powerful,” he noted.

In response to a query by committee chairman Kerr, the safety-service director explained that the sewer plant still has problems when it has extra rain to deal with. “We are looking to upgrade the plant and reduce our infiltration,” Allen said. “Seventy percent of all water is not sewage water right now. While we have to upgrade the plant, we don’t want to upgrade our capacity.”