Storm Water Update From Chief Operator
Whitney Hymes, the chief operator of the Elkins sewer utility, has provided the following update concerning recent extraordinary rain events in Elkins, obstacles for storm water management, and next steps that are being planned to continue making improvements:
The past few months have exhibited extremely extraordinary rain events for the Elkins area. These unprecedented influxes of precipitation are causing system overloads.
Usually, overload issues are relieved by permitted discharges located throughout the City. These permitted overflows are designed to help reduce any potential flooding or surcharges involved with the Sanitary Sewer system. These abnormal rain events experienced are surging the system and are maxing design capacities.
The City of Elkins has been working diligently to improve system flaws throughout past years. These developments are very exhaustive and expensive and must be completed in “Phases” to provide a cost-effective solution to not only the City but also to the residents that will ultimately be responsible. The City began these “Phase Projects” with the initial “Phase I Project”, which began in 2015. The “Phase II Project” was just completed in 2021 and is still undergoing finalization.
Comparing dates, the duration of a Phase Project can take anywhere from 3-5 years. The length of time is due to the thorough work it takes for design, execution, and completion. At this time, there have not been any designated areas chosen for the upcoming Phase III project.
City personnel and collaborating partners are in the beginning stages of identifying areas impacted the most to provide the most success for the system and the best cost-effective strategy for residents. State and federal guidelines also play a large factor as to what can and cannot be implemented in the system. Since it is not feasible to have one project covering the entire City, the Phase III Project will not be the last progress seen. Numerous Phase Projects throughout future years will provide a cost-effective option for City residents.
A short-term solution that may help alleviate flooding issues would be to remove downspouts/roof drains from the Sanitary Sewer. Removal of excess storm water from the Sanitary Sewer will aid in the control of overload issues. Please note, if downspout/roof drain removal is completed consideration should be followed for any neighboring properties or locations.
In conclusion, the City of Elkins is aggressively working toward improving the current system. These improvements will take time due to regulatory standards, concentrated studies, and guaranteeing that studies confirm areas that will provide the most impact and cost effectiveness not only for the City but also for the residents we serve.