Wednesday, January 16, 2002

N. Ky. starts moving to meet storm water order

Program aims to cut polluted runoff

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT MITCHELL — Officials with Sanitation District No.1 will shortly be knocking on the doors of 33 cities in Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties to take the next step in implementing a federally mandated storm water program by March 2003.

        Representatives of a few of the cities met Tuesday at the Drawbridge Inn with officials from the Kentucky Division of Water to learn what regulations are required in the federal EPA's Phase II storm water program.

        Sanitation District Executive Director Jeff Eger explained that the district hopes to be the lead agency in dealing with the new federal regulations, which are aimed at curbing stream pollution from storm water runoff.

        “We'll be calling on the cities very soon, to work out memorandums of understanding with each one,” Mr. Eger said. “But the big question is still, How do we fund it? We'll have to work on that as well.”

        Sandy Gruzesky, with the state Division of Water permit section, emphasized that Northern Kentucky must have a storm water permit program in place by next year, and she said the Division of Water would much prefer to deal with a single entity in the permit process rather than with each city. The initial Phase II permit is for a five-year period.

        Bruce Scott, manager of the permit branch of the Division of Water, said the state has already identified at least 12 streams in Northern Kentucky listed as impaired, which could mean they do not meet standards to permit swimming or fishing.

        Boone County Administrator Jim Parsons asked Mr. Scott if the Phase II permit coverage was for urban or rural, or both, and if it covered farming areas such as those in western Boone County.

        “This program is geared toward urbanized areas,” Mr. Scott said. “We're looking at runoff from the cities and suburbs.”

        In answer to a question from Mr. Parsons regarding permits for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Mr. Scott said the airport has a separate EPA permit that will continue under Phase II.

        “If it is proven that the airport is causing pollution problems for a neighboring municipality, we would have to investigate that on a case-by-case basis to reach a decision and possibly a remedy,” he said.

        The airport is one of the principal storm water runoff areas in Boone County, with some runoff into Kenton County, because it has so many acres of flat concrete surfaces.

        Regarding cost, Mr. Scott said the state had no specific figures for Northern Kentucky now.

        But Sanitation District storm water manager John Lyons said a Phase I (large municipal system) storm water program in Louisville costs a single family homeowner an average of $3.38 a month.

        Mr. Eger said that while the Sanitation District will initially be dealing with erosion and sediment control issues related to construction and development under the Phase II program, the cities would be required to handle some chores locally, such as cleaning out catch basins.


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