Blueprint Columbus: A fix for Boardman? | Part #1 - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Blueprint Columbus: A fix for Boardman? | Part #1

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

Boardman has been trying to find a flood fix through stormwater mitigation and other measures for many years, even decades.
While the township is not alone, the search for that fix has taken longer than many residents there would like.

"One of the ways Columbus phrased this issue is really in terms of public health," says Blueprint Columbus Communications Coordinator Leslie Westerfelt.

One hundred fifty miles away in Columbus, those problems go back a long time too.
But through an initiative called "Blueprint," the city is systematically overcoming them.
The initial phases included research to isolate the problems to 20 neighborhoods, many of which are the city's oldest.

"What we were finding is that you have a lot of stormwater finding its way into the sanitary system," says Westerfelt. "That's really happening in two ways. One of them is through the cracks and general breakdown of clay pipes allowing rainwater to seep in. Another way was that a lot of these older homes when they were built, their foundation drains were just automatically connected to the sanitary sewer. That was acceptable way back when, but it is no longer acceptable now."

As the project progressed, the focus centered on how to stop stormwater and sanitary overflow in the first place.
Westerfelt believes Boardman can benefit from mimicking some aspects of it.

"I call it angioplasty for your pipes," she said. "The lateral linings, which essentially seals up those clay pipes rather than digging up those lines and putting in new PVC all over the city."

We caught up with a city of Columbus crew that was prepping a neighborhood for a lateral lining project.

Looking at a screen showing a feed of a mobile camera fed down into the pipes, Westerfelt said, "We're looking for the current condition of the pipe. This tells us, 'Is the liner going to go through, adhere, and accomplish what we want it to accomplish?'"

And it appears that it is.
Initial data from the city shows that after mainline sanitary sewer lining in the Clintonville neighborhood we visited, there's been a 64 percent reduction in basement backups and a 72 percent reduction in incidents of water overflowing out of manholes.
As good as all that sounds, it begs the question of how to pay for it.

"The entire Blueprint project is paid for through fees that everybody in Columbus pays when they pay their water and sewer bill," says Westerfelt. "There's a clean water fund fee, and there's a storm sewer maintenance fee, and those are the pots we're pulling from."

Columbus' sanitary manager Scott Sibley explained another arm of the Blueprint program that could help Boardman.

"They can apply to have a sump pump installed and a backflow check valve put on their sanitary service line to prevent that backup from coming into their basement," Sibley said. "The city will hire a contractor to install those."

Sibley says Boardman would have to amend its code to set up a program for that, but he's convinced it would make a major dent in the township's problems.
But if Mahoning County Commissioners give the OK to the sanitary district collecting similar fees, it's reasonable to think that Boardman could soon have a 'Blueprint' of its own.

Westerfelt says the Clintonville project area that covered some 3,000 homes cost about $80 million.
We'll hear from Mahoning County, and Boardman Township officials in part two on Tuesday as to whether Blueprint could be the answer so many have been pleading for.

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