City will appeal $10,000 fine

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tennessee has notified Lewisburg that it's violated stormwater management rules and the city manager says the allegation about record keeping will be appealed to lower or eliminate a $10,000 fine.

Councilwoman Quinn Brandon on Tuesday questioned City Manager Eddie Fuller about the order from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation dated June 23. Water pollution Control Division Director Paul Davis gave the city 30 days to request a hearing before the state's Water Quality Control Board.

Lewisburg has hired St. John Engineering in Manchester to prepare a plan to correct the infraction and Fuller says the city will take its case to the Water Quality Control Board for a hearing in Nashville.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 began a permitting process for sewage treatment plants and while the legislation contemplated controls over stormwater that would carry silt and other pollutants into rivers and streams, it wasn't until the 1990s before rules were developed on how that's to be done. The idea is to prevent petroleum products from washing off roads and parking lots into streams, as well as keeping stormwater from eroding soil from construction sites. Both are considered pollutants to waterways.

However, Davis' order cites the city for not having documentation of a public education program and public participation - such as Boy Scouts planting trees - in efforts to control stormwater.

Such requirements become a municipal responsibility when its population exceeds 10,000 and that happened with the 2000 census.

Those responsibilities also call for a program to detect and eliminate illegal dumping into the stormwater system. Davis cited the city for not having documentation of such a program here, nor was there documentation of a program to control stormwater runoff from construction sites.

Lewisburg has a stormwater program director, Corey Pleas. He and his predecessor, R.L. Williams, have enforced regulations on silt fences.

But Davis says there's been no "post construction stormwater management, nor is there documentation of steps to be sure the city is abiding by such environmental protections at its buildings."

Davis' order calls for an ordinance to correct some of the deficiencies, the production of a storm sewer system map, and implementation of various programs to comply with the requirements.

Failure to comply could result in an increase in the $10,000 fine to $35,000.

As Fuller sought answers on Wednesday, he said he was uncertain on whether the city had told TDEC the city's doing something, but isn't, or whether the city reported itself as not doing something and the state didn't respond until June.

Compounding the problem is what appears to be a computer error in which a word processing document was copied into a spreadsheet program document, causing a jumble of words and letters.