The joint WPCC meeting was held at the Eastlake City Hall. Chair and City of Willoughby Councilman Mr. Harrold opened the meeting at approximately 6:00 p.m.
In attendance from the City of Eastlake: Councilwoman Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, Councilman Jeff Licht, Councilman Kimberly C. Evers, Acting Service Director Nick Rubertino, Eastlake City Engineer Tom Gwydir and Eastlake Port Authority Representative Chris Aune.
In attendance from the City of Willoughby: Councilman and Willoughby WPCC Chair Bob Harrold, Councilman and City of Willoughby Liaison to the Eastlake Port Authority Chris Wooden, Service Director Angelo Thomeselli and Willoughby City Engineer Jim Sayles. Also present were WPCC Plant Superintendent Jack Gorka, Assistant Superintendent John Hall and Industrial Associate Diana Passwaiter. Councilman Bob Carr was absent and excused. Also in attendance was Council Clerk Ms. Radebaugh.
ANNUAL REPORT: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
(Supplemental minutes to Summary -See Attached)
1. Eastlake Port Authority
Mr. Aune: Over the past year we have been working on a new site usage plan/park development and it has gone along fairly well. We are still in the process of defining the parts of the plan. The Lake MetroParks are on board with it and are looking to see how they can fit into the use and tying in the bike trail Willoughby is working on – to connect it further west into Eastlake. It will be useful for the Communities. Once we get it moving in the right direction it will be a well received piece of property. The City of Willoughby has plans for the upper south portion of the property and that has been taken into consideration in our planning.
Unidentified Speaker: We are impressed with the park plan. I believe it will be an asset.
Mr. Aune: You have been a big help communicating with the City of Willoughby and helping me in getting things put together.
Unidentified Speaker: Any new people?
Mr. Aune: I met with Mayor Anderson and our Mayor Morley. The cities have drafted a new letter Mayor Anderson will take to the County Auditor for review. We are still working through it and I believe it is handled in this letter – we will know shortly. Once that happens and the letter is signed we can put together the bid package and whoever bids on it will know exactly what they are responsible for.
Unidentified Speaker: Is everyone aware of the subleases and Council approvals and potential tax ramifications? It does sound like this is going in the right direction to be sure that all the checks and balances are made and it will not become a for-profit tax hole
2. Main Water Service Line
Mr. Gorka: We need an easement to do this but we are not sure where the waterline runs. We have sensors on the line so we will know when there is a pressure drop. We had an approximate cost of $100,000.
5. SSES Study
Mr. Gorka: As of the end of the year we still have not heard anything regarding the SSES study. We will be discussing things later on so it will all pull together.
6. SSES: Comprehensive analysis: feasible alternatives
Mr. Gorka: In the SSES are plans to do all sorts of work. This lists the costs involved in that. Those expenses are looming and are potential expenses. We have to start thinking about how the cities are going to fund all this.
7. USEPA Wet Weather Sanitary Sewer Information Request
Mr. Gorka: The USEPA initially asked for an information request which took about a month to compile. They inspected and asked a lot of questions. They are evaluating our sewer systems for SSO – discharges of sanitary sewer overflows to the waters of the United States. This has nothing to do with the SSES. This affects our overflows.
Mr. Gorka: This expense has not been budgeted but at some point will have to. We could add this to the other projects we have to save us money in the planning instead of making it an individual project.
12. Incinerator Process
Mr. Gorka: The incinerator process has been abandoned. We have moved to sludge hauling.
At this point we saved on an annual basis $96,257. We still have one employee to trim to get us to where we want to be. That would be about $80,000 that would get us to where we want to be. When we retire someone we will get to where we want to be with the sludge hauling.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Is the incinerator what caused such a smell? I have not noticed a big smell lately.
Mr. Gorka: It is the processing of sludge in general but we have noticed it is worse in the winter because we have to shut down all our odor systems because they freeze. Do you have issues in the summer?
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Yes.
Mr. Gorka: Let us know. We thought it was much better in the summer.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: It did not seem quite as bad.
Mr. Gorka: If you get complaints let us know. We don’t know if you don’t tell us.
14. Routine and Preventive Maintenance Activities
Mr. Gorka: With the installation of the oxygen monitoring system which I can now check by pushing a button and with the cameraing system we can do a virtual walk around of the plant – this has allowed us to go to single man shifts. We are on single man shifts for all but three afternoon shifts. That allowed us to shed two people from the workforce and another in the future. The maintenance department did almost all this work in-house. They worked tirelessly last year. We had a price of $14,000 to replace the gutters on two aeration buildings and it took two maintenance support guys all summer to replace the gutters. They got it done and painted in about 1 ½ months. That is the kind of stuff they do all the time. The guys that are leaving are in operations but Mr. Gwydir’s concern is when the maintenance guys leave – the replacement fund needs to be increased because when we start going outside to do these things the costs will go up.
15. WPCC Staff
Mr. Gorka: Since 2010 the staff has been reduced by 4. The only way left to save money is through head count. We cannot put in any more energy savings devices.
16. WPCC Plant Safety
Mr. Gorka: We had 63 action items ranging from replacing every GFI in the plant to throwing away a ladder with a bent rung. The plant is as safe as can be so the single shifts have nothing to worry about. Moving to a single man shift – people don’t realize the difficulty when you have a culture that has been in place for 40-50 years of running two shifts – similar to two policemen in a car. Going down to one guy was no small feat.
17. 2014 Expenditure Requests
Mr. Gorka: Our budget is still lower than last year by $30,000 or $40,000. This year should be not as expensive.
9. Satellite Sewer Discharge Control Program (SSDCP)
Mr. Evers: This states that Eastlake, Lakeline and Timberlake are not in compliance? Mr. Gwydir, are we doing anything with this?
Mr. Gorka: About 1998 they EPA put into our permit a condition that the satellite communities have Class 2 operatives in charge of your system. You had one for a while – Mr. Ramski who retired. That would be good enough for Lakeline because you maintain Lakeline. Timberlake has to fight that battle with the OEPA. They hire out to clean their sewers and some of them must have a license.
Mr. Evers: Do we have anyone in training to replace Mr. Ramski as a Class 2 operator?
Mr. Rubertino: No, other than the employee we have who has a Class 1.
Mr. Gorka: I think in general they were happy with Willoughby and some of the SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedure) – it is a paper document driven entity. It was a pretty intense investigation. We have not received a response – they said about two months. There whole intent is to eliminate SSO (sanitary sewer overflows). They went to Quentin and East Island and gathered information. I don’t think it will be good. The next part will be how fast our response can be and what are we going to do. This dovetails into the SSES. We submitted that to the OPEA – the USEPA is their boss and they were their watching. They said they will probably reissue with our new permit which expired the end of last year – they will probably reissue the same statement they had in the previous permit that created the SSES. I don’t know if they will have us resubmit of whatever the USEPA says they want done.
Mr. Sayles: In the SSES study we identified the areas and came to a determination what the cost would be. Now it is a matter of timeframe on when we can do it. Cost was a huge factor. Hopefully it will get us 25-30 years.
Mr. Gorka: I don’t think the USEPA is going to embrace our 25 year plan. By rule I don’t think they go farther than 20 years. It is anyone’s guess what they will say and whether they will allow events to exist at all – before we had a 5-year 1 hour event, 2-hour 10 year event. The good news is it will be initially administratively driven – not findings and orders which you are being sued at that point. We will know if a couple of months – the end of April – and depending on what they say we will probably be having a meeting.
Unidentified speaker: What are your thoughts about the most cost effective ways? We have been focusing on I&I in neighborhoods. But, that will take a very long time.
Mr. Gorka: I don’t know. The most cost effective way – and what everyone does – store it and treat it. In your summaries is a map showing basins, the SSES plan, timeline and costs. They may say this is a good start.
Mr. Evers. Eastlake’s SSO’s are Quentin and East Island.
Mr. Sayles: In the SSES there projects each City would have to pay for but the retention basis would be joint. The retention basin in the case of Quentin goes right by the overflow – the SSO. The plan is to do the waste water equalization basins first and spread out the others later.
Mr. Evers: Aren’t both Quentin and East Island monitored through the plant as to what comes in or out – gallons per minute?
Mr. Gwydir: Yes.
Mr. Gorka: We have all that data. In the last five years we had 108 overflows. That is the type of thing I am sure they will want to do something about.
Mr. Gwydir: In doing the basin and treating after there is a chance they will look back at source control to see if there are other options to try to cut down some of the flows and systems and perhaps eliminating some of the relief sewers – it will be an economic equation at the end of the day.
Mr. Gorka: You will know as soon as we do. We will see what they want. I think that they were amazed that anything we asked for they had. They did not have a laundry request when they left.
Willoughby/Eastlake I&I Pilot Study
Mr. Sayles: The other way to deal with SSO’s is to find water that should not be in the sanitary sewer and eliminate it – keep it from getting in there. It has always been recognized that 50% of your sewer system is on private property and not under the direct control of the City – in pipes in front yards, commercial developments and industrial developments. Those leak too. So, roughly 50% of your I&I is coming from private property – probably the higher percent. A lot of communities are moving into programs to go onto private property and find these leaks and fix them. Some communities are having great results and reporting 80%-90% removal of the infiltration. So, they significantly reduce the size of their sewers and retention basins that they need downstream. The fifty million dollar question is putting a number to it. There are a lot of records that say the cities have no authority at all. That is spending public money on private property. There are other Law Directors that say it is for public benefit so you can spend the money. That complicates it. It is not easy to do – it is an expensive proposition. Previously we talked about developing a pilot study for a portion of Eastlake and Willoughby where we would go into a small neighborhood and put in a flow monitor and measure how much infiltration and inflow we are getting over a few storms and then go in and start doing intensive investigation and testing and surveys and finding sources of infiltration and then spending city money on construction dollars in actually fixing this stuff on private property. Then when you are all done keep measuring with your flow monitor over a few storms and see how effective you have been. Some communities have reported up to 80% removal. If that is successful you have a sense of how much water in total you may be able to get out of the whole city if you spread this program through the whole city. You can then look at your retention basins and maybe make them smaller or eliminate a couple of them. But, if it costs you $50 million to find all the inflow on private property or spend it otherwise – the costs are the same. Why go through the political nightmare of digging up front yards, etc. You need to evaluate to determine the best and most appropriate thing to do. Willoughby Council has reported to me that they are anxious to get going on that and they have asked me to provide info on a neighborhood in the City of Willoughby. Ideally you would want to have both cities doing something at the same time. They both affect what is happening at the plant and that is the goal – to minimize the adverse impacts by SSO on the plant. Ideally we would like to see it happen concurrently. Finances are different in the two cities – sewer funds and that type of thing. Those are factors. The USEPA coming in and doing a questionnaire and where is this going – I wonder if we want to wait these couple months to see what falls out. Maybe the permit renewal will have some action items we will have to address. Maybe these pilot studies would be part of our response to how we are going to respond to these issues. It is not easy – all sewers leak – brand new sewers leak. As they get older they get worse and the problem compounds.
Mr. Licht: I know the actual cost of everything is part of it. But, the study itself – did Willoughby come up with an estimate?
Mr. Sayles: The engineering part of the study will be in the neighborhood of $100,000 – $150,000. But, the completion of that study includes all the construction work needed to fix those sources. If you have 150 houses in your pilot study and 2/3 of them have problems – that is 100 houses. You will spend money on those houses and we are finding you will probably average $5,000 a house to fix these problems. That is $500,000. Willoughby has 7,000 houses. Eastlake is probably similar. If you expand it out we are actually starting to approach that $50 million. Maybe it is not worth doing source control but you will not know until you try it. These source control programs are viewed by the EPA as positive responses to their requirement to eliminate the SSO’s.
Mr. Licht: If you don’t fix the problem at the source it will just get worse and worse over the years.
Mr. Sayles: Another problem with source control – we can find all the leaks but what if I don’t have a storm sewer in front of my house or there is a little, tiny storm sewer. We will be sending more water trying to get into inadequate drainage systems. Now we have other flooding problems. You cannot blindly go into this and create a whole bunch of other problems. It is not that the EPA does not care about that but they are focused on eliminating sewage from getting into the lakes and rivers. Ultimately it has to be comprehensive.
Mr. Gwydir: There is no one magic bullet. It may be taking care of a little bit of this or that but the economics will determine what you choose. You have to look at the whole or you inadvertently create problems instead of solving them.
Mr. Sayles: When we did the sewer flow monitoring 3-4 years ago for the SSES we had them spread out over each City. We charted and Orchard Park and three in Willoughby were way up at the top of the scale – lots of infiltration. The lowest on the scale were up in Ward 1 and Ward 2. Willoughby is real obvious. There are some sewers that are 100 years old and then sewers in the neighborhoods that were built in the 60’s.
Unidentified Speaker: I mentioned at one time that we may have to tell the residents that they have to cut their downspouts and put them on splash blocks. But the neighborhood is built on a hill and the people at the bottom are going to scream. The Point of Sale ordinance tells people to use splash blocks – we do get complaints.
Mr. Sayles: Back to the source control – expanding it through the whole City really looks like it is worth it. Cities across the country have this in various ways. Some have said it is in the public interest so we are going to raise the sewer rates to pay for all this. Other cities have done the other thing – because it is you and you are flooding your neighbors you are ordered to fix this. We will give you the information but you have to fix it at your cost. Some cities pay for material but the home owner has to pay for the contractor. Cities have set up low interest or zero interest loan funds and then when the money is paid back it goes back into the loan fund for the next guy to borrow. Decisions are as much political as financial. That is a tough sell.
Replacement Fund Funding
Mr. Gorka: The replacement fund study occurred two years ago comments could not be understood due to paper shuffling We are still out $450,000 as a set aside. Currently we are setting aside $150,000. Comments could not be understood due to paper shuffling and background conversation There are certain things looming on the horizon – the electrical system upgrade – all are in the report and show the cost. We need to set aside $450,000 a year starting now so we can absorb all these costs.
Mr. Sayles: This ties back to Mr. Gorka’s comments about how successful the current staff is in doing the work. There is a lot of work needed year after year. It is very unusual that you have this staff that does in-house work and keeps these dollars in check. That is how they have been able to get along over the years without needing more and more money. Our recommendation is $450,000 and the thought is to build it over the next three years. $150,000 this year, next year $250,000, the next $350,000 and next $450,000. The plant is 30 years old since almost all this equipment was replaced and it has a service life of 15 years. It is not just repairs but maintenance and keeping things running.
Mr. Gorka: The Committees need to tell their Councils that we need to increase the replacement fund. We have talked about it for three years. We are currently putting in $150,000 – $75,000 from each City. I am looking for $250,000 – that is $50,000 more than what they are currently putting in. I don’t know where Eastlake is but I know Willoughby will be reviewing their sewer rates in detail. There are a lot of projects on the books so it is likely there will be a sewer rate increase.
We are going to have to start to move forward with the SSO’s and the SSES has been out since 2011. We all sort of know what it says we have to do. Everyone, including me does not want to do it. But, now with the USEPA coming in they will demand something be done – now or really soon. Our timeline for the SSES for the first to tanks which are $10 million+ is in a year or two. Comments could not be understood due to paper shuffling and background conversation.
Mr. Sayles: The Regional Sewer District has to deal with combined sewers and SSO’s. Their bill is $3.5 billion.
Mr. Gorka: We will have to modify the SSES to meet whatever the USEPA asked. They will be the driver and the OEPA will go along with whatever they say.
Mr. Sayles: I am going to say it – even if it does not matter to residents – Willoughby and Eastlake sewer rates are among the lowest in the State. I think everyone in this room should be credited with doing a great job to keep things in check for a long time.
Mr. Gorka: If you guys get back to the Finance Directors as a Committee to say we need to bump up the replacement funds but we cannot just do that – we have to amend the agreement between the two cities because it fixes that dollar amount. There needs to be Councilmatic action to put the replacement funding at $250,000.
Incinerator Permanent Shut Down
Mr. Gorka: We have basically stopped incinerating – shut it down. The sludge hauling is on a five-year contract and we have a five year option. If we don’t do things fairly soon on the incineration we have to officially shut it down and never go back. I thought that decision should not just be mine or the engineers. Once we get out of it there is no going back – if you wanted to incinerate again it will be cost prohibitive. We are still grandfathered in but we still have to meet the standards that drove us out of it. I think everyone knows we are done incinerating. They are turning the sludge we produce into gas. I don’t know if we will ever get to the point where they will take it for free because they are making money on it. Europe has 2,800 facilities and the U.S. has 6. It is considered a renewable.
Mr. Licht: You mentioned a $96,000 operational savings – what is the actual cost?
Mr. Gorka: Yes, it is in the report. It is a no-brainer. To meet any of the standards the cost could be up to $1 million easily. The upgrade could have been staggering. We never did any testing because that was $25,000 a test. Is anyone against shutting the incinerator down?
No comments were audible.
East Island Overflow – Joint
Mr. Gorka: Joint facility is defined in the report on page 33. East Island Overflow a long time ago was kind of joint because the water from Plains Road discharged into the sewer putting pressure on the sewer and it would cause East Island to overflow. In 2007 we completed the forcemain extension that takes the Plains Road flow all the way to the plant. So, when East Island overflows it is purely Eastlake’s water. The EPA wanted to know – when the wall came down because it was plugged up – originally after 1986 it was sealed. Shortly thereafter there was basement flooding and the poked the wall out. It is all documented with the EPA who did not have a problem with it.
Mr. Sayles: That was considered part of the joint system because before 1986 the pump station in Willoughby pumped into the sanitary sewer that runs along Lakeshore Blvd. to the north side and down Forest Drive and then to East Island Drive under the river to the plant. That overflow was on the system that carried Willoughby and Eastlake water. In the 80’s when the Plains Road pumping station discharge location was moved to the intersection of Lakeshore Blvd. and Forest no Willoughby flow was going through the system. Theoretically you could say it should not be part of the joint system but it was decided in the 80’s that by the truck line on Lakeshore Blvd. by the Plains Road pump station there were valves. And for maintenance purposes the City of Willoughby could change the valves and the system could go back to pumping into the Eastlake trunk sewer if Willoughby had to do some maintenance work on the rest of the forcemain. So, because the Eastlake trunk system was still always available to Willoughby to discharge in East Island overflow piping stayed a joint facility. That capability of using Eastlake’s truck system during times of maintenance is still available to the City of Willoughby. So, nothing has changed.
Mr. Gorka: Willoughby’s City Engineer disagrees with modifying the agreement. Maybe once we get through all our SSO issues and see what the EPA says the cities should visit what is or what is not a joint facility. The retention basins were considered joint facilities because they were necessary to help with the operation of the plant and to avoid bypassing. Even though a couple only take Willoughby flow or Eastlake flow they are considered joint because they are critical to the operation of the WPCC. So, I am assuming that is what we will do if we build the plan that adds more retention basins – they will need to become joint facilities. That is for future discussion – about modifying the agreement to determine what is or what is not a joint facility. We need to wait to have a serious discussion.
Mr. Sayles: Comments could not be understood due to background conversation each City has to come up with $50,000 extra – someone needs to communicate that to the Eastlake Finance Director.
Mr. Licht: That is for one year – then it goes $50,000 more.
Mr. Sayles: And $50,000 more the year after.
Mr. Licht: To get to the goal of $450,000 between the two cities.
Mr. Gorka: Depending on what the EPA says we will have another meeting to talk about what they said. If there are modifications to the SSES – I know there is money left but not a lot. More money will have to be spent to upgrade to what they want. All this will drive considering raising sewer rates. They will want to see that to.
Mr. Sayles: In my opinion we have a schedule to see how much money we will be spending down the road. Councils should look at a five-year plan – not a big 50 cents increase but 10 cents each year for five years.
There were no further questions or comments.
The meeting was adjourned.