The Ohio EPA has monitored storm sewers in many bigger cities.
By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- The city's engineering department can proceed with developing a five-year plan to fall in line with an unfunded mandate from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Council agreed Wednesday to have department employees start the plan, which will outline how the city will begin managing storm sewers.
City engineer Mark Hess said the OEPA decided it would begin monitoring storm-sewer systems similar to the way it monitors sanitary sewers.
Hess said the program is in use in many bigger cities, but the OEPA decided to expand the monitoring to smaller ones.
The OEPA wants better information on what flows from storm sewers into area streams and rivers.
Hess said the Trumbull County Engineer's Department agreed to act as an umbrella agency for all county communities and townships.
Each municipality will gather its own information and make its own plan, Hess said, but that information will be passed on to county officials, who will hire an engineering firm to create a plan to meet OEPA requirements.
"Since it falls under the county umbrella, it takes away the need for each community to hire their own engineering firm to create this plan," Hess said. "It will save everyone a little money."
The deadline to submit the five-year plans to the OEPA is March 10.
Under the mandate, the city will develop a plan focusing on six key areas, including public education and outreach, public participation and involvement and stencils for storm drains to indicate they flow to rivers and streams.
In addition to telling the public not to throw trash or other items down a storm sewer, the local plan will also call for Niles officials to map out the location of all storm sewers, and a timeline to ensure each catch basin in the city is cleaned at least once a year, he said.