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Cities work together to solve stormwater problem

The city of Henrietta has asked for help and Richmond is responding.
Henrietta has major problems with infiltration of their sewer systems when it rains. Typical daily use during a dry day is about 23,000 gallons of wastewater. When it rains,that number can increase by 10 times, depending on the size of the rain.
Henrietta City Clerk Margie Long and Aldermen Bob Duncan and Randy Russell met with the Richmond Public Works and Finance Committees last week to come up with a plan to help the city. Long said infiltration problems have wiped out money for other sewer maintenance.
“I can’t get any money ahead of us to help us because it’s all going into rainwater,” Long said.
City Administrator Rick Childers will work with Long the next couple of weeks to help come up with a formula for helping the city with their rates.
Henrietta held off raising rates last spring and has had to tap into reserve savings to pay the sewer bill.
Childers said manhole work in Richmond has helped in bringing Richmond’s infiltration problems down.
“The last rain, we spiked lower than we do in a typical rainstorm,” Childers said. “It went up and immediately came down. Normally it will go up and stay up for three, four or five days.”
Childers said only about 10 percent of the south plant’s flow comes from Henrietta and doesn’t affect the system a whole lot under normal circumstances, however when it rains it does cause problems.
“We get paid the same whether it’s rainwater or sewer water,” Childers said. “However, every time Henrietta’s system spikes that puts an extra load on the south.”
Although a formula wasn’t determined, it was decided that any money Henrietta saves must go back into fixing the system. Councilmen Scott Marshall and Jason Berning both said they want to help but they also want to make sure it’s not at the city’s expense.
Marshall said he also doesn’t want to be pushy.
“That’s my only concern, is that we are taking care of the south plant’s needs,” Marshall said. “I don’t want to go in and tell Henrietta what to do at the same time either. I want to work with you on it, but I don’t want to be the big brother.”
Berning added that any development is going to come from the south and the city doesn’t want to turn development away.
Another concern is a white paint-like substance that is coming through the system from Henrietta. Wastewater Superintendent C.E. Goodall said the substance has been tested but it could not be determined what it is. Childers said if the problem continues that could also affect funding if the system had to be shut down for repairs or cleanup.

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