Proposal would create new standards, penalties for discharges

Adairsville City Council hears first reading of new sewer use ordinance

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The City of Adairsville is contemplating a sweeping ordinance that would create uniform requirements for users of the municipal government’s treatment facilities. 

A first reading of the nearly 40-page ordinance was held at Thursday’s Adairsville City Council meeting.

Among other objectives, the proposed ordinance seeks to “prevent the introduction of pollutants into the publicly-owned treatment works that will interfere with its operation” and “to promote reuse and recycling of industrial wastewater and sludge from the publicly-owned treatment works.”

The ordinance would also set fees for “the equitable distribution” of publicly-owned treatment works operation, maintenance and improvement costs and bring the City into compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit conditions. 

“The ordinance authorizes the issuance of individual wastewater discharge permits, provides for monitoring, compliance and enforcement activities, establishes administrative review procedures and requires user reporting,” the text reads.

Under the ordinance, the city manager is tasked with administering, implementing and enforcing its provisions. 

While substances such as stormwater, surface water and unpolluted wastewater are listed as prohibited substances, a provision of the ordinance does allow those and several otherwise banned substances to be permitted under the city manager’s authorization.

The ordinance also allows the city manager to set local limits lower than state-mandated regulations for several pollutants if he or she believes more severe standards are necessary to meet ordinance objectives.

It also allows the city manager to develop “best management practices” (BMPs) by ordinance or in individual wastewater discharge permits in order to implement those local standards.

“No user shall ever increase the use of process water, or in any way attempt to dilute a discharge, as a partial or complete substitute for adequate treatment to achieve compliance with a discharge limitation unless expressly authorized by an applicable pretreatment standard or requirement,” the ordinance text reads. “The city manager may impose mass limitations on users who are using dilution to meet applicable pretreatment standards or requirements, or in other cases when the imposition of mass limitations is appropriate.” 

The ordinance would also establish two classes of building sewer permits — one for residential and commercial services and one for “establishments producing industrial wastes.”

Other pretreatment measures outlined in the ordinance include provisions allowing the city manager to place restrictions on peak flow period discharges, as well as require users to relocate and/or consolidate points of discharge.

Under the ordinance, users producing and carrying industrial wastes would have to equalize their wastewater discharges so that their low instantaneous flow rate is never less than 50% of the average daily flow rate, nor their high instantaneous flow rate never greater than 150% of the average daily flow rate.

They would also be required to install a continuous flow monitor and recorder — which would be provided to the local government upon request — and install a monitoring station “with such necessary meters and other appurtenances in the building sewer to facilitate observation, sampling and measurement of the wastes.”

Under the ordinance, individual wastewater discharge permits would be approved or denied by the city manager within 30 days of receiving a completed application. The permits would be in effect for a maximum of five years, with modifications allowed for the incorporation of new or revised pretreatment standards, changes in ownership and several other circumstances.

Those permits can be transferred, but only with approval from the city manager.

“The city manager and other duly authorized employees of the City bearing proper credentials and identification shall have the right to enter the premises of any user to determine whether the user is complying with all requirements of this ordinance and any individual wastewater discharge permit or order issued,” the ordinance text reads. “Users shall allow the city manager ready access to all parts of the premises for the purposes of inspection, sampling, records examination and copying and the performance of any additional duties.”

The ordinance gives the City the ability to issue emergency suspensions, as well as discharge terminations. Failure to report “significant changes in operations or wastewater volume, constituents and characteristics prior to discharge” would result in a penalty of at least $1,000 and possibly imprisonment for up to 180 days. 

A second reading of the ordinance is required before the council votes to approve or deny the proposal. The next council meeting is scheduled for May 9 at 7 p.m. at 116 Public Square in Adairsville.