Marietta officials working on water quality

MARIETTA – A new water quality ordinance could replace Marietta’s land development ordinance, according to information presented during a city council lands, buildings and parks committee meeting Wednesday.

“The city has an MS4 (municipal) stormwater permit through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the EPA is making sure all MS4 communities in Ohio are working toward improving their water quality,” said city engineer Joe Tucker.

He said the agency is pushing municipalities to adopt a water quality ordinance that includes stricter regulation of how stormwater runoff is handled.

Tucker distributed a sample water quality ordinance to the committee members, noting the sample document was developed by the Southeastern Ohio Storm Water Workgroup.

“This ordinance addresses everything Ohio EPA wants addressed in a water quality ordinance, but it does not cover some of the issues that we’ve included in our current land development ordinance,” he said. “But I wouldn’t recommend having both a water quality ordinance and a land development ordinance.”

Instead Tucker suggested rescinding the city’s land development ordinance and replacing it with the water quality ordinance. But he added that necessary elements of the land development measure could be added to the water quality ordinance so that it better fits Marietta’s needs.

“One part of the proposed ordinance looks at post-construction best management practices – at how the developer will make sure that the ‘first-flush’ from a storm is not washing trash and erosion into area streams,” he said.

Kathy Davis, stormwater specialist with the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District, said Ohio EPA is closing loopholes in laws that impact water quality, although the land development ordinance contains similar regulations.

“Right now our ordinance says the post-construction runoff has to match the pre-construction stormwater runoff, and we want that to include both water quantity and water quality,” she said. “We hope we can keep that in a new water quality ordinance.”

Tucker said he has proposed to Ohio EPA officials that a new water quality ordinance could be put in place for Marietta by the end of September. But he also wanted to give council members time to review the proposed ordinance and to take it through three readings, which would provide time for public input on the measure.

“I wanted to introduce this to the committee so you could look it over and ask any questions or make recommendations,” he said. “This will also impact our permitting process.”

In other business Wednesday, finance committee members agreed to spend $8,200 for preliminary engineering services from Pickering Associates of Parkersburg to develop plans for lining a large deteriorating culvert that diverts Goose Run under Channel Lane near the Marietta Times entrance.

“We’ve been trying to find a way to repair the culvert without having to tear it out which would require closing the roadway to traffic for some time,” said Jarrod Schultheisz, project manager with the city engineers office.

He said the corrugated metal culvert is in poor condition and has about two feet of sediment built up on the bottom of the structure.

Tucker noted most of Channel Lane was resurfaced last year, but the section crossing the culvert has not been resurfaced because he was concerned that heavy paving equipment could cause major damage to the culvert.

He said the proposed repair would include lining the existing corrugated pipe with a layer of smooth concrete that would not only reinforce the pipe, but would also allow better flow of water through the culvert.

Preliminary engineering of the project this year would enable Tucker to develop a better cost estimate for the work that could be budgeted for 2014.