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What We DoCombined Sewer Overflow ProgramThe Long-Term Control PlanCSO Public Notification
In 1995, our Stormwater utility was formed with the intent of creating a source of revenue to start addressing the Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) in Marion as mandated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) through IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management). Until then, our System Maintenance Department maintained only the sanitary and combined sewer system, with the City Street Department sustaining the storm systems and street inlets.
Additionally, creating the utility service allowed for System Maintenance to maintain the Marion storm systems, as well as providing enough revenue to put approximately $1 million per year toward new construction to reduce the amount of CSOs per year, as mandated by the EPA.
We are currently responsible for:
175 miles of sanitary and combined sewer with 3,762 manholes
90 miles of storm sewer with 1,900 manholes and 3,020 inlets
20 Lift stations
7 CSO points
Among many things, we respond to sewer complaints, as well as responsible for the following Preventative Maintenance Program:
Sweep miles of streets to remove tons of debris per yer
Inspect 650+ manholes per year
Inspect by televising 105,000+ ft. of combined sanitary and sewers per year
Inspect CSO structures once a week (in dry weather) and twice a day (in wet weather)
Clean 180,000+ ft. of sanitary and combined sewers per year
Clean inlets three times a year
Annually inspect piping for tree roots and thoroughly clean
We are also responsible for repairs/replacement of manholes, inlets, and pipes. We are able to patch broken sewers from inside the pipe without having to excavate.
What Is A Combined Sewer & How Does It Affect The Mississinewa River?
Almost every time it rains, raw sewage mixed with storm water from combined sewers overflows into the Mississinewa River. Marion Utilities is currently addressing this problem, however, meeting Federal mandates may require significant financial expenditures that will affect the whole city.
CSO Public Notification
Long Term Control Plan
The sewer collection system consists of three kinds of sewers:
1. Storm sewers that carry only storm water runoff.
2. Sanitary sewers that carry only sanitary waste.
3. Combined sewers that carry sanitary waste and storm water runoff.
The theory behind the combination sewer was that during dry weather it could transport sanitary waste to the treatment plant. During wet weather, the sanitary waste would be flushed to the treatment plant by the influx of stormwater, and as the sewer reached capacity, the stormwater would overflow to the river. However, a large amount of sanitary waste also discharges to the river. This discharge is called a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO).
Sanitary waste discharged to the river can have a drastic impact on the water quality of the river. High concentrations of metals from industrial discharges such as zinc, lead, copper, nickel, chromium, cadmium and mercury, low levels of dissolved oxygen due to the biological breakdown of organic waste and high levels of bacteria and pathogens can make the river unfit for recreational use, impair the rivers ecology, and in extreme cases, cause fish kills.
The US EPA recognized the potential danger that CSO’s and other discharges posed to the nations water ways and passed the “Clean Water Act” in 1972. This Act no longer made it legal to construct combined sewer systems. However, this Act did not require CSO communities to reduce the number of combined sewers contained in their system, therefore communities continued to maintain and operate existing combined sewer systems. Realizing that more needed to be done to improve the water quality of the nations streams and rivers, the US EPA developed a national CSO Policy in 1989. With revisions in 1994, this policy set forth 9 controls which every CSO community must follow. These “nine minimum controls” are:
1. Proper operation and maintenance of the collection system
This insures that each community has a preventative maintenance program to keep the system operating efficiently.
2. Maximum use of the system for storage of excess flows
The more sewage that can be stored in the sewer pipes, the less that will be discharged to the rivers.
3. Review and modification of industrial pretreatment programs
This involves working with the industries to reduce discharge volume and/or metal concentrations.
4. Maximization of flow through the wastewater treatment plant
Most treatment plants are capable of handling more than their design capacity for short periods of time without affecting the quality of the effluent or harming plant operations. The more flow that can be brought through the treatment plant, the less that will be discharged to the river through a CSO.
5. Prohibition of CSO discharges during dry weather
Some communities have combined sewer systems that are so hydraulically overloaded that overflows would occur without a rain event.
6. Control of solid and floatable material in CSO discharge
This is mainly for aesthetic reasons to reduce the amount of trash and debris discharging to the river.
7. Establishment of pollution prevention programs
Recycling, street sweeping, trash pick-up, and programs such as “Tox-away Day” all reduce the amount of trash that can eventually end up in the sewer system, cause maintenance problems, or be discharged to the river.
8. Public notification of CSO occurrences/impacts
This involves public education on CSO impacts and possible dangers. Signage is placed at each CSO for identification with phone numbers to call if discharging is noticed during dry weather.
9. Submission of a Stream Reach Characterization Evaluation Report (SRCER) to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management
This study measures the effectiveness of the first eight minimum controls, and identifies the impacts that a community’s CSO’s have on the river. After submission of the SRCER, each community must submit a Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) designed to reduce/eliminate the CSO’s.
What Are The Existing Conditions Of The City Of Marion’s Waterways & Sewer System?
Marion’s sanitary waste collection system consists of approximately 75% combined sewers with 44 miles of sanitary sewer and 132 miles of combined sewers. Some of these sewers are over 100 years old. It should be noted that previous to the 1940’s, there was no Wastewater Treatment Plant in Marion and all sewers eventually discharged directly to the river. At one time the system contained over 15 CSO’s, however through a program of regular maintenance, and sewer separation, the collection system now contains only seven combined sewer overflows. It is estimated that, on average, 182 million gallons of raw sewage mixed with stormwater discharges from these on an annual basis.
Sampling along the Mississinewa River has indicated that the metal concentrations and other water quality parameters are within the normal standards with the exception of the E-coli levels. E-coli levels are higher than the acceptable standard (235 colonies/100mL) during dry weather and climb even higher during storm events.
What Is Being Done To Reduce CSO Events In Marion?
A study completed in 1988 showed that Marion discharged an average of over 1.1 Billion gallons of raw sewage mixed with stormwater runoff on an annual basis. With improved maintenance focusing of storage within the system and over $12 million in sewer separation and system improvements, it is estimated that Marion now overflows 182 million gallons in an average year.
What Are The Options For Improving The Water Quality Of The Mississinewa River?
Marion’s Long Term Control Plan will reduce the number of overflows from approximately 60 down to 8 in a typical year at a cost of $32 million over the next 15 years. The plan will combine these four basic strategies achieve this goal:
1. Using the existing sewer system to store more sewage during wet weather
In some instances the sewer pipes are not completely full before starting to overflow to the river. CSO weirs have been raised or other mechanical devices installed to ensure these pipes are full before they overflow, however, caution must be taken not to allow the pipes to get too full allowing sewer back-ups into basements or on streets.
2. Expanding the Wastewater Treatment Plant to treat more flow during wet weather
Marion’s treatment plant has a design capacity of 12.0 MGD, however, it can handle over 20 MGD for a short period of time. Expanding the Plant’s capacity will allow more sewage to be treated and allow less overflow to the river.
3. Build storage facilities throughout the collection system
Underground tanks can be constructed to store sewage during rain events then release it after the rain is over.
4. Separation of storm and sanitary sewers
Treatment of “clear” stormwater at the wastewater treatment plant can be very expensive and uses up valuable capacity in the sewer collection system. Separating combined sewers into a sanitary system and a storm system is an effective way of reducing or eliminating CSO’s, however, it is important to remember that in the future there may be stormwater regulations that could require cities the size of Marion to address pollution concerns with these stormwater discharges.
On May 9, 2003, a new rule went into effect requiring communities with combined sewer overflows to notify the affected public of the occurrence of overflows containing untreated sewage into local streams and rivers. As required by 327 IAC 5 – 2.1, this program will be incorporated in the Combined Sewer Overflow Operational Plan. the objectives of the CSO Notification Program are to educate the public about potential health impacts from contact with combined sewer overflow discharges, alert members of the public who are affected by CSO’s and enable the public to better protect themselves from exposure to waterborne pathogens associated with CSO’s.
The “affected waters” for this program have been determined to be the following:
That part of the Mississinewa River from the Pennsylvania Street bridge north to the northern property line of Matter Park, and Boots Creek from the 9th Street bridge to its confluence with the Mississinewa River.
In March of each year, Marion Utilities will provide a Public Notice in the Marion Chronicle-Tribune Newspaper to allow the affected public, local media sources such as the Chronicle-Tribune, WSOT TV 57, WIWU TV 51, WMRI, WGOM, WCJC, and WBAT radio stations, and other interested members of the affected public to request CSO notification. In the same public notice, Marion Utilities will offer to provide signage to access points to affected waters on private property. Failure to respond to this public notice will constitute refusal of the community’s offer to provide signage. To notify the affected public and the County Health Department, when a weather forecast indicates a substantial chance of rain, local newspaper and radio stations will be asked to make an announcement similar to the following: “When it rains, older sewer systems throughout the city can overflow sending untreated rainwater mixed with sewage into the Mississinewa River and Boots Creek. In the event of rain, please avoid contact with water downstream of combined sewer overflows for the next three days. Signs are posted along our waterways to identify where contact with the water could be hazardous to your health. For more information, please call Marion Municipal Utilities or log on to marionutilities.com.” Signs are posted at CSO outfalls and public access points such as boat launches, parks, schools, parkways, and greenways on affected waters as shown on the maps. Signs will read: “Caution – Sewage or Wastewater pollution. Sewage or Wastewater may be in this water during and several days after periods of rainfall or snow melt. People who swim in, wade in, or ingest this water may get sick. For more information, please call Marion Municipal Utilities, (765) 664-2391.”
Public notifications will be documented on the monthly DMR’s, and a record of submitted reports will be kept at the Marion Utility’s Administration building and available during normal working hours.