By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently audited the city and told officials two ordinances would be necessary for their compliance with the department.
The first of the two ordinances — an illicit discharge and connection ordinance — went through its first reading Jan 15 and regulates “non-storm water discharges” into the city’s storm drainage system. Corporation Counsel Corinne Galusky said the Building Department always has monitored the issue, but it was not enforceable due to the lack of the city ordinance.
“This ordinance will regulate pouring the wrong things into the city’s sewer system,” Galusky said. “They saw a problem with pollution getting into the water systems and said we needed an ordinance to better protect against that.
“In order for us to become compliant with their regulations, we had to adopt this ordinance. We have always followed their guidelines, but we had no way to enforce them without a proper ordinance in place.”
The adoption of an illicit dumping and connection ordinance will mean that residents, business owners, contractors, and any other person or entity found dumping pollutants into the sewer system can be fined, she said, and the ordinance allows the city to become compliant with the MDEQ.
There also is a regulation built into the ordinance that controls tapping into a neighboring drain and discharging waste. Each property must have a dedicated sewer line on the property, Galusky said, and the provision usually affects communities where a public water and sewage system is not present.
She said the ordinance was meant to standardize the controls against the illegal discharge of waste and chemicals into a public sewer system across the state.
The ordinance states the dumping of paints, varnishes and solvents, oil and automotive fluids, pesticides, construction waste, hazardous materials, and most non-hazardous materials that are considered waste to be violation of the ordinance.
There are some exemptions to the ordinance, Galusky said, which include water line flushes, landscape irrigation, residential car washing, and street wash water along with others involving water run off during storms or crawl space pumps.
The second ordinance the MDEQ required, Galusky said, was a storm water management ordinance similar to the Wayne County Storm Management ordinance. According to the Wayne County website, the county’s ordinance requires storm water management systems — like those found in mobile and manufactured home parks, construction projects where storm water will run onto public roads or properties, and residential, commercial, and industrial subdivisions — meet performance standards to “minimize flooding problems, erosion, and loss of or damage to natural resources.”
Those requirements state the maximum runoff leaving properties over five acres must not exceed 0.15 cubic feet per second per acre for a 100-year storm and the maximum runoff leaving properties under five acres must not exceed 0.15 cubic feet per second per acre for a 10-year storm.
A 100-year storm is a measurement used that equals the total amount of rainfall that has a 1 percent chance of occurring at any location. Similarly, a 10-year storm equals the total amount of rainfall that has a 10 percent chance of occurring at any location.
A second reading and adoption of the Illicit Discharge and Connection Ordinance is scheduled during the Feb. 5 council meeting which means it will go into effect about Feb. 25. The first reading of the storm management ordinance will also be presented to the council Feb. 5 and is planned to adopted at the Feb. 19 council meeting.
Galusky said a first reading is presented to the council to see if councilors want to make any changes, then it is followed by the second reading with the changes and are usually adopted at that point. Unless an ordinance addresses an emergency situation, she said, an ordinance goes into effect 20 days after being accepted by the council.
(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at [email protected])