Lansing Aldermen have hired Water Resources Director Tim Church as Operator in Responsible Charge for the town’s wastewater treatment system. He has been serving the town for 18 years in the capacity of director and consultant for Lansing’s system, and also serves the Town of Jefferson.
Visiting the Lansing Board of Aldermen last Monday, Church informed them of new permits being required for the town’s collection system. In effect for about a year, the new permit regulates operation of the sewer collection system to make sure municipalities follow state rules and procedures for preventing raw sewage overflow.
“This permit is fairly restrictive and requires certain activities and actions to document those activities,” Church told the board, describing an extensive list of those requirements. They include:
• Maintaining a sewer spill response plan, a contingency plan. This needs to be assembled and approved by the state.
• Current collection system map. The town is in good shape with this.
• Initiate grease control ordinance for residents and businesses. Educate the public about not putting grease down sinks and other facilities that end up in the town’s wastewater collection system.
• Maintain security of high priority sewer lines. The town has four that cross creeks.
• Operation and maintenance plan.
• Rights of way and easement maintenance to maintain access by vehicle to all manholes, so bushes need to be cut back from existing sites.
• Cleaning of the sewer line length, which can be done with a fire hose if there are no blockages.
• Walk the entire system each year for general observation and check of manholes, and make annual report.
As Operator in Responsible Charge, Church will assume responsibility and liability for assisting the town in meeting these requirements, and as a result will be financially compensated. The cost will be assumed in the 2010-11 town budget.
The tighter restrictions on municipal wastewater collection systems is in connection with incidences of raw sewage overflows and the Department of Water Quality’s plan to reclassify the North Fork of the New River watershed in Ashe and Watauga counties as Outstanding Resource Waters, Church told the board. This new classification, which affects other parts of the New River, brings with it stringent controls on what is discharged in the river.
DWQ is in the process of notifying those in the New River Basin who will be affected by the reclassification and seeking comments. This is one of the strictest classifications, Church said, and could be a costly procedure restricting discharge and development.
The aldermen were amenable to the new requirements in order to meet state law and hope that if there are expenses involved in compliance with the reclassification that grants will be available to help. Mayor Jason Ring noted that if the town follows procedure and shows due diligence in complying then the state will work with a municipality facing costly upgrades in a collection system.
Church also informed the board of some repairs needed at the treatment plant including replacement of submerged components. This will require a temporary shut off of inflow and a bypass while the work is being completed. A truck will be used to collect inflow during the temporary shutoff so there will be no backup of inflow.
Lansing is also in the process of seeking help to map water and sewer lines in the town. Phil Trew from High Country Council of Governments attended the September board meeting to talk about a mapping service done by satellite. Cost would be about $48 per hour and could take about 80 hours (40 in the field and 40 in the office). The board is looking at this idea and discussing how to meet the cost.