Just like Newport, Toledo is facing some pretty hefty underground utility repairs and upgrades. Tuesday evening, during a workshop, the city council was told by Interim City Manager Don Munkers that the town’s wastewater plant is coming up for a license renewal from the EPA and the State, both of which are expected to lower the boom on Toledo for frequent effluent spills due to too much stormwater getting into the sewer mains and overflowing the plant. Munkers told the council that the plant is operating at it’s limit during certain times of the year with about three times the amount of wastewater the whole town produces. It means that more stormwater is infiltrating the sewer lines than actual wastewater volumes from homes and businesses.
What to do?
Munkers says they’ve already run a video camera through most of the lines and it shows a lot of pipes that are broken, leaking, tree roots running through them and other damage that allows stormwater to infiltrate the sewer system. So, on some days the Toledo wastewater plant is operating at nearly a million gallons per day instead of the 400,000 gallons a day that would be expected from a town the size of Toledo.
To tackle the dilemma, city councilors told Munkers and Acting Public Works Director Dave Inmen to work up some funding ideas for the “big fix” which would reduce flows to the sewer plant and keep the EPA and DEQ happy. Munkers said that the town simply doesn’t have the money, nor can it raise enough money, to get all the repairs done. For that, Munkers said, he’ll have to go after any and all state and federal grants, as well as low interest loans, to help pay the estimated $1.7 million dollars needed for the stormwater upgrade. All councilors agreed that higher sewer bills are not the way to go, not with so much of Toledo being comprised of moderate to lower income families who are already struggling to make ends meet.
Munkers said the strategy is to scramble for the grants, plus local match, to rescue the town’s wastewater plant from having to treat a lot more than just domestic and local business wastewater. Munkers said it’s going to be a long slog to track down the money.
As funding trickles in, Munkers said the worst sections of stormwater piping will be fixed first. When the project will start depends on what money comes in.