Separation Project Reduced Storm Water in Sewer Lines
This time last year, South Elkins was the scene of near-constant excavation work as a city contractor installed new underground pipes to carry storm water to the river. As is still the case in much of Elkins, South Elkins had no storm-water lines. Instead, storm drains and many residential downspouts in that neighborhood were connected directly to sewer lines. In combined sewer/storm-water systems like ours, too much rain can enter the sewer system during big storms, resulting in overflows of untreated wastewater to the river. Last year’s work in South Elkins was the second phase of an ongoing project to separate sewer and storm-water lines to reduce the occurrence of such overflows.
So, how effective was this project? Whitney Hymes, the chief operator of the Elkins wastewater system, says that the two phases of sewer/storm-water separation work completed so far have already been extremely effective at reducing the volume of water entering sewer lines during heavy rainfall.
“When I started working at the treatment plant about 12 years ago, heavy rain events could result in as much as 8-10 million gallons leaving the plant after treatment,” says Hymes, who points out that the plant is designed to treat and release no more than 4.99 million gallons of outflow, or effluent, per day. “The effluent we were releasing still met environmental standards, but it definitely wasn’t as clear and clean as it could have been.”
According to Hymes, since the completion of the underground work last fall, the highest spike in system volume caused by a large rain event was only 5.99 millions in a single day.
“We still have work to do to eliminate overflows entirely, which is the goal DEP [the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection] has set for us ,” says Hymes, “but we are making good progress toward that goal.”
Hymes and her team are currently working with engineers to plan a third phase of sewer/storm-water separation work. The project start date has not yet been set. In the meantime, there is something that property owners in South Elkins can do to help further reduce the volume of storm-water entering the sewer system.
“There are still a lot of houses in Elkins with gutter downspouts connected directly to the sewer lines,” says Hymes. “We really need to get those tied to the storm-water lines instead. If anyone wants more information, I encourage them to get in touch with me.”
Reach the Wastewater Treatment Plant at (304) 636-2058 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.