The new aerator equipment at the city's water treatment plant will provide continuous annual savings and pay for itself in less than two years, according to water department manager Gary Schmitt.

The new aerator equipment at the city's water treatment plant will provide continuous annual savings and pay for itself in less than two years, according to water department manager Gary Schmitt.

"The aeration system is now up and functioning and allows us to perform water PH control by mechanical means instead of using chemical treatments," he reported at Monday's meeting of Canal Winchester City Council service committee. "This will save us $38,000 a year in chemicals we don't have to purchase and we anticipate that savings will pay off the new system in less than two years."

Water reclamation manager Steve Smith reported 21 months of continuously positive EPA reviews of the water reclamation facilities, despite last year's record rainfall.

"I'm happy to say that for the first time, despite the wettest year in history, we went through the year without a single disruption to our NDPES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit and the EPA didn't find any violations at all, nor anything of note during their visits," he said. "We're 21 months in a row now without any violations.

"I don't have records from the past, so I don't know if this is a city record, but we've been working very hard at accomplishing this and we'll continue to keep the streak alive as long as we can."

According to Schmitt, instead of presenting a challenge, the record rainfall actually helped the water treatment plant.

"That amount of rainfall was beneficial in replenishing the aquifer and there was very little watering (of vegetation) done, so our demand was reduced to 654,000 gallons of water a day," he said. "On a normal dry summer, we would use a little over 1 million gallons a day and even that is well below the 2 million gallons a day allowance we have per the EPA."

Smith said his staff will make environment quality modifications to the flood basin at the water reclamation plant to help during times of high rainfall.

"We're working on modifications for our flood basin at the plant to make it more automated so that it is less likely we'll have a problem during flood events," Smith said. "It's an inexpensive, couple of thousand dollar solution."

Committee member John Bender said he was concerned about the appearance of the water catchment ponds, especially on Gender Road.

"The only time it looks good to me is if it's full of water," he said.

Committee member Leah Turner agreed.

"I notice it every time I go out there. It just looks like it's a big mudhole," Turner said.

According to urban forester Dick Miller, there are native shrubs that could be planted, but the area involved is primarily on developer Casto's land.

"We have a little right-of-way there and if we can talk to Casto about moving into the existing tree line, we could plant a very winter-hardy and drought-tough shrub there that might accomplish what you want," Miller said. "I'm not sure we could block it completely all 12 months but at least during the growing season."

In other news, Miller said the spring street-tree planting contract is currently out for bid and should be completed by mid-May. He said the Street Tree Advisory Board will sponsor this year's Arbor Day events in Canal Winchester and will install a rain garden between the elementary schools as a part of the celebration.

The next service committee meeting is scheduled for 5:45 p.m., Monday, March 19, at Town Hall, 10 N. High St.