Storage tank prevents sewer overflows into the lake

Kelly J. Kaczala

         The Northwest Water and Sewer District in 2015 designed an above ground 2 million gallon flow equalization basin or sanitary sewer overflow storage tank to hold sewage and storm water during heavy rain events before it is released and treated by Oregon’s sanitary sewer treatment plant.
        “Everything seems to be working fine,” said Northwood City Administrator Bob Anderson.
        Northwood has a contract with the district for water and sewer services from Toledo and Oregon.
        Oregon has an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to make improvements to its system, which affects the district. The district can only allow 5 million gallons of storm water and sewage per day to run into Oregon. It didn’t exceed that level in dry weather. However, under wet weather, it was a problem.
        In 2014, the district reviewed the flow over 18 months and determined it had exceeded 5 million gallons a day 60 times.
        The district’s contract with Oregon had been renewed, but it mandated the implementation of a new control structure for the flow, which travels down one main line into the city of Oregon before it is treated.  
        The district designed a 30-foot tall basin to be built on a 2 acre parcel between Curtice Road and Wise Street in Northwood. It is located 1,350 feet east of the nearest house in the Greenway Estates subdivision. The tank catches and holds the excess flow of sanitary sewage and storm water temporarily before it is released for treatment in Oregon.
         “This was something the district needed to do. There was a legitimate need,” Anderson said. “The district needed to reduce the flow before it got to Oregon. This was a logical place to do it.”
Into the lake
        During heavy rains, the storm water mixes with the sanitary sewer system. The water can’t be released into the sewage treatment plant at one time because it overflows untreated into Lake Erie. The phosphorus from the waste contributes toward the development of harmful algal blooms in the lake. One of the solutions was to build a holding tank or a pond to hold that water until the storm was over and it would start to drain.               
        The overflow stems from inefficient sanitary sewers in older homes in the city, said Anderson.  During big rain events, the system backs up and there is overflow.
        Northwood had wanted the construction of an underground tank. Some were concerned the tank would be an eyesore. Cost estimates for an underground tank were higher, however, and the underground alternative was abandoned.
        Some residents from surrounding neighborhoods had also expressed concerns about the above ground tank. They were worried it would emit an odor and cause a drop in property values.
        The district said the tank would have a system to catch the odors and send them back into the basin. The basin would also help property values, according to the district, because it would alleviate flooding problems that residents had been experiencing.
        The district listened to the concerns of the city and residents. They designed a more aesthetically pleasing facility. It was more low profile and was built five feet deeper into the ground than what was originally planned. The circumference of the building was expanded, which made it shorter and wider. Trees were planted at the site, and the tank was painted an attractive color.
        “It seems to be doing its job,” Anderson said of the tank. He didn’t think more tanks were needed in the city.
        “That’s pretty much it. Whether we need more or not, we’d have to be approached by the Northwest Water and Sewer District. It’s my understanding that this tank right now is sufficient. It doesn’t mean it will always be that way. As more housing gets built and more land becomes covered with asphalt and impervious surfaces, rain will runoff a lot faster. So I can’t say somewhere in the future it might not be necessary. But it seems to be serving its purpose holding  water for slow release.”
        There haven’t been any complaints from the neighbors, either.
        “Nobody seems to be talking about the tank. From the city’s standpoint, we haven’t had any complaints about it. I don’t think people pay much attention to it anymore.”


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