KINGWOOD — The days are counting down for Kingwood property owners ordered to remove their storm water from the sanitary sewers.
Earlier this year, council amended the sewer ordinance to allow fines for property owners who don’t comply after being notified by the sewer board that their storm water is going into the sewers. Smoke testing is used to determine the infiltration.
At Monday’s Kingwood Sewer Board meeting, City Clerk Mary Howell said only four of the 14 sent certified letters have let city hall know they rerouted their storm water.
“Some of them just ignored us,” Howell told the board.
Recipients have 90 days to respond to the letters. Nearly 60 days have passed.
“The sewer board is absolutely dedicated to enforcing the ordinance,” Board Member Randy Plum noted.
After the deadline passes, the ordinance calls for the chief of police to issue a citation. The case will be heard by the city police judge, who can impose fines of $10 to $100 for each day the infiltration continues. There is also a provision to charge the customer for the city running the storm water through its sewerage treatment plant, in addition to the fine.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered all sewer systems to separate out storm water by 2020. The amendment to the ordinance gives the Kingwood board authority to enforce that separation.
As previously reported, Plum said 15 percent infiltration of storm water is to be expected. But the Kingwood sewer plant treated 24 million gallons in one rainy month and only billed for 3 million gallons of sewage treated. That’s an 80 percent infiltration rate.
The board also discussed the next round of smoke testing to find infiltration. It will probably be done behind the Dairy Queen.
In other discussions Monday, the board tabled action on the creation of a storm water authority and directed the sewer supervisor to cut back on overtime. The board has $18,000 budgeted for overtime salaries, plus taxes and benefits, for the fiscal year, which ends June 30. It could end the year in the red for the line item, unless cutbacks are made.
Board member Chuck Miller noted that while some overtime is scheduled, some occurs because of issues that arise. The board suggested employee schedules be adjusted to avoid overtime when possible.