Water quantity and quality were the focus of the Feb. 23 Delaware City Council work session.

Water quantity and quality were the focus of the Feb. 23 Delaware City Council work session.

The last major improvement to the city's water treatment facilities was 35 years ago, city manager Tom Homan told the council. That project doubled the capacity of the system from 3 mgd (million gallons a day) to 6 mgd and installed systems needed for water quality.

Homan pointed out that federal stimulus money could be used to pay for part of the cost, which is why the project was brought to council now.

A plan to expand that capacity and make improvements to the city's existing water treatment system was presented to the council at the work session by Brett Casey, an engineer with Malcolm Pirnie Inc., and Brad Stanton, the city's director of public utilities.

The plan, Homan said, "looks at increasing the capacity, not doubling it, but focuses more on water quality."

Hoping to keep the costs down, the city and its consultants first looked at rehabilitating the system, Homan told council. New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that take effect in 2013 would require more capacity.

"The expansion is necessary to comply with those regulations," Casey said.

The expansion would increase the plant capacity to 9 mgd, which would allow the city to do away with the lime-softening treatment system that is very expensive, he said. Other improvements would rehabilitate the existing water plant to maintain 6 mgd capacity for coagulation-filtration of surface water, and construct a parallel treatment system for softening the groundwater supply.

While demand is not at the 6 mgd level now, Casey said, "The EPA will start getting nervous as you approach that figure."

The increased capacity will help the city meet peak water demands on hot summer days, Stanton said.

The project's total cost is estimated at $21.7-million, a bargain compared to the $50- to 60-million projected in the 2006 master plan recommendations, Homan said. The plan presented to the council breaks that into phases designed to meet short-term and long-term needs, he said.

Council voted to allow the consultants to proceed with the engineering work for the project, which should be complete by early fall.

Also at the meeting, city engineering services director Bill Ferrigno discussed the permit issued recently by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) for stormwater discharge into the Olentangy River.

Last year, the city objected to the proposed permit regulations, which would have affected property values, increased construction costs and hindered development opportunities in the southwest industrial park, Ferrigno said.

In addition to more stringent setbacks along the river, the proposed regulations required property owners to set aside additional land to replace any setback used for utilities, underground pipes or ditches.

The city also must adopt its own stormwater regulations within the next 90 days, under terms of agreement with OEPA.

"The final outcome of the new permit will still have significant impact on the development of properties within the city of Delaware," Ferrigno wrote in a memo to council.

But, it also gives the city more control over what is developed and how it is developed in that area.

Also at the meeting Brian McCombs, coordinator of the Delaware Watershed Program, gave the council an update on projects that fall under his jurisdiction.