Greenville updates sewer use ordinance for industrial users

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 9:58 am on Friday, July 19, 2013

GREENVILLE — Changes have been made to Greenville’s sewer usage ordinance to stay compliant with the frequent changes to federal law.

The updated ordinance mainly applies to industrial users.

During Tuesday’s Greenville City Council meeting, a public hearing was held to discuss changes to the city’s ordinance in regards to sewer usage.  With no public comment, the ordinance was unanimously approved by the council.

The motion repealed articles 4 and 5 of chapter 44 in the city code of ordinances and enacted a new chapter 44 of article 4 of part 2 of the ordinance to regulate the use of public and private sewers and drains, private swage disposal, sewer installations and connections and discharges of wastewater and pollutants into the city’s publicly owned treatment works. It also requires pretreatment of non-domestic wastes by users of publicly owned treatment works, user permits and monitoring and reporting of users and to provide enforcement, penalties and relief for violations.

“I would guess about 50 percent or more (of the ordinance) is identical to what was there before, just repackaged,” said attorney Matt Zimmerman, who was at the meeting to clarify any questions the council might have.

Zimmerman explained the ordinance had not been updated since around 1993 when the industrial pretreatment program was amended, so Waster Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Shawn Wheat put together a new ordinance. Zimmerman noted the city saved a lot of money by having Wheat do the work.

“(This ordinance) is to keep the city in compliance with state and federal regulations,” Zimmerman said.

City Manager George Bosanic explained to the council why the ordinance was being redone.

“With the ever changing regulations from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality), we are required to amend our sewer use ordinance,” he said. “And, on occasion, we must consider a comprehensive review.”

Zimmerman highlighted the most important changes to the ordinance.

One change will be how sampling will take place. The ordinance will now impose a sampling requirement and will sample frequently for dischargers. A self-monitoring requirement for nondomestic uses and monitoring associated with best management practices is being issued and there is a requirement to notify the publicly owned treatment works superintendent within 24 hours of becoming aware of a violation. A requirement to repeat sampling within 24 hours of  violation is mandatory and the supervisor has the right to do so, if not taken in a timely matter.

A second notable change is industrial pretreatment program fees, which will require non-domestic dischargers to pay all of the costs of the industrial pretreatment program.

Reimbursements have been revised to include costs of prosecution, reimbursement of publicly owned treatment works expenses on natural resource damages and other fines, penalties or claims made against publicly owned treatment works by the MDEQ or EPA, costs of third parties hired by the city for the enforcement, city staff time including overhead, overtime and salary and a list of the factors to consider in determining the cost to be reimbursed.

Bosanic asked Zimmerman how this ordinance compares to others to make sure the city is not over-regulating industries in Greenville.

“They are a big part of the community,” Bosanic said. “Are we being fair to the industry? Are we being consistent with other communities?

Zimmerman said Greenville should be the same as other cities and city officials shouldn’t have to worry about over-regulating as this ordinance complies with federal law.

Council members asked whether certain fees were in place and ready to go. Wheat said now that the ordinance has been approved by the council, he can work on setting up fees and penalties depending on the severity of the violation.

“If an industry is (not compliant), there are steps to make them compliant,” Wheat said. “There several steps in place before fines and fees are issued.”

A copy of the full ordinance can be viewed at City Hall.

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