Archive | February, 2012

Grants for Recycling Businesses Available

28 Feb

$500,000 is now available statewide to allow businesses to purchase equipment to manufacture products out of recycled materials, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. A 50% match is required. Let’s hope we see some applications from entrepreneurs in Monroe County!  This might be an opportunity for public-private partnerships as well, such as the partnership between Bloomington Pedal Power, Monroe County Solid Waste Management District, and the City of Bloomington that created the Downtown Bloomington Recycling Center.

More information is available here: http://www.in.gov/recycle/5745.htm

New Illicit Discharge Ordinance for Monroe County

26 Feb

Buried after the contentious discussion about the Monroe County Comprehensive Land Use Plan at this last Friday’s meeting of the Monroe County Commissioners was a bit of progress for our water quality initiatives. The Commissioners passed an ordinance that finally makes illicit discharges into the storm water system (which drains directly and unfiltered to our creeks and lakes) illegal.

Illicit discharges are defined in the ordinance as: “Any discharge, deposit, injection, spilling, leaking or placing into the Stormwater System by direct connection or otherwise that is not composed entirely of storm water, except naturally occurring floatables, such as leaves or tree limbs. Sources of illicit discharges include (but are not limited to) sanitary wastewater, septic tank effluent, car wash wastewater, oil disposal, radiator flushing disposal, laundry wastewater, roadway accident spillage, yard waste, animal waste and bedding, and household hazardous wastes.”

You can find a complete copy of the Illicit Discharge Detection Ordinance here.

Illicit discharge detection and elimination have long been the weakest link in our water quality efforts in Monroe County. This ordinance is a first step forward. The next step is enforcement — we need to make sure that we have the resources available to actually detect and address these illicit discharges.

Progress on Stormwater Program

11 Feb

Wanted to update everyone on some forward motion in the county’s new Stormwater Management Program (establishing this program was one of the pillars of my platform when I ran for Council in the 2008).  The Council approved the program (and the stormwater fee to fund it) back in July of 2011.

On Tuesday (2/7/2012), the County Council’s Personnel Administration Committee (PAC) approved the creation of several new positions essential to the program:

Drainage Engineer/MS4 Operator: This position will coordinate the entire stormwater management program, as well as being in charge of compliance, engineering, and reporting on stormwater management activities. Perhaps most importantly, this position will be responsible for responding to complaints by the public on drainage and flooding-related issues.

Stormwater Inspector: Perhaps the most important position in the entire program, the inspector will be out in the field verifying construction practices, documenting problems (including running out after big storms to photograph the evidence), and making sure that the construction firms comply with all of the applicable drainage requirements. The inspector will also be in charge of detecting and reporting illicit discharges, one of the areas that Monroe County was weakest at in our last IDEM stormwater audit.

Stormwater Equipment Operator: This position will work out of the Highway Garage, and will work on a crew that will be in charge of cleaning, replacing, and repairing culverts and road and ditch pipes, both to prevent and address flooding problems. The operator will also be able to assist in snow and ice removal during bad weather, when ditch maintenance isn’t possible.

PAC approved these position descriptions 3-0 (Kelson, Langley, McKim voting in favor). Now that these position descriptions have been approved by PAC, they will still need to be classified and voted on by the full County Council (PAC is an advisory committee only), likely in the March Council meeting. The Council will need to approve the position descriptions, classifications, and salaries of the positions (a lot of people don’t realize that fixing position descriptions, classifications, and salaries of county positions is a statutory Council responsibility), amend the salary ordinance to include the new positions, create budget lines to pay the positions out of, and then appropriate funding from the stormwater fee into these budget lines. Expect to see further activity on creating these positions and appropriating the budget for these functions in the next couple of months.