A college student home for the summer recently alerted the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and New Albany officials to violations of the city's sediment- and erosion-control ordinance at two construction sites.
Henry Kempker, 22, who will be a senior this fall at Wittenberg University, on June 18 emailed the report of potential violations.
He included photographs that showed where the silt fence was not installed properly at the construction sites. Silt fences are used at construction sites to prevent mud or dirt runoff.
Kempker's photographs showed gaps in the silt fence, the absence of silt fence in certain areas, bags not placed properly to prevent mud from running into storm drains and construction mud tracked off the site.
The sites Kempker referenced included two buildings under construction near the intersection of Market and Main streets: the New Albany Co. retail building that will open this fall at the northwest corner of the intersection and the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany that will open early next year north of the intersection at Village Hall Road.
The intersection at Market and Main is closed temporarily for construction of a roundabout.
In his email, Kempker wrote, "The following photos were taken of the construction site on the corner of Market and Main streets. These photos show a disregard for the sediment-control ordinances of the city of New Albany on the part of the Daimler Group. It is requested that their sediment control be brought into compliance."
City ordinance 1183.01 is designed to control "the pollution of public waters by sediment from accelerated stormwater runoff caused by earth-disturbing activities and land-use changes connected with developing urban areas. Control of such pollution will promote and maintain the health, safety and general well-being of lives and inhabitants of New Albany."
The ordinance requires anyone disturbing land in the city limits to have a sedimentation and erosion-control plan, which has to be approved by the city engineer, and to abide by EPA guidelines. The ordinance includes specific provisions for retaining stormwater runoff within a construction site.
EPA inspector Harry Kallipolitis visited the site June 24 and met with city officials; a representative of the city's engineering firm, E.P. Ferris and Associates; and representatives from the earthworks contractor, Terra Valley Excavating of Bellville, and the site developer, the Daimler Group.
Heather Lauer, an EPA spokeswoman, thanked Kempker for reporting the issue and said the site was almost back in compliance as of last week.
Lauer said Kallipolitis said Kempker's photographs show failing controls at the site's perimeter, but the storm water is being contained on the site and is not reaching the perimeter in most areas.
"We were happy to get the initial report because we can't be everywhere and so when people see things like this and if they let us know about it, we can go out and take a look," she said.
New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee said the violations were "limited and very minor in nature" but added that the city's community-development staff members would continue monitoring the site and work with inspectors to prevent any further EPA involvement.
Kempker said he learned about erosion control from a family friend, Bill Resch, who is the New Albany-Plain Local School District's environmental consultant.
Kempker said though he was homeschooled, he worked with Resch to learn about environmental issues.
At Wittenberg, Kempker is majoring in art with a complex minor, studying geology, computer science and art history.