Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said he feels exonerated since the state Department of Natural Resources has closed a case against the sewer district that he presides over.
The fact that the DNR is satisfied with the Brush Creek Sewer District’s response to a violation notice shows that efforts are being made to improve the system, Griesheimer said.
He said the city of Pacific recently espoused “propaganda” against the sewer district by saying that the district would be fined for a sewage spill.
“They need to clean up their house before they start condemning other people,” Griesheimer said, adding that the district was not fined for the violation.
The violation notice that DNR sent to the Brush Creek Sewer District in February dealt with a sewage overflow at the Shaw Nature Reserve Jan. 30-31. The overflow dumped about 38,000 gallons of wastewater.
Pacific recently sued the Brush Creek Sewer District alleging the contract that governs how the city treats the wastewater from the sewer system has been breached.
Pacific City Administrator Harold Selby said it is good news that the DNR has cleared the sewer district of the nature reserve sewage overflow. But Selby said this does not mean the issues brought forth in the city’s lawsuit are satisfied.
However, Griesheimer said DNR’s letter proves that the sewer district is acting responsibly in running the system.
“We are trying to do the right thing, and we do care about running the system correctly and not having problems,” Griesheimer said.
Griesheimer and the other two county commissioners — Mike Schatz and Tim Brinker — serve as the trustees of the sewer district.
Pacific officials have tried to paint Brush Creek Sewer District trustees as “terrible citizens who are bad on the environment,” Griesheimer added.
Selby said Pacific wants the infiltration problems in the sewer system fixed so rainwater does not enter the pipes causing excess discharges into the city’s treatment plant.
Selby added that it is interesting that a review of the system being undertaken by the sewer district is finding problems. Once those problems start being fixed, Selby said tests can be done to see if flow levels are going down.
The DNR letter, which Griesheimer received last week, says that the sewage overflow at the nature reserve was caused by a blocked sewer line, not excessive infiltration of rainwater into the system.
“We are now considering your response to the (violation notice) complete, and we now consider the matter closed,” the DNR letter states.
The letter adds that the sewer district responded promptly to the sewage overflow.
The DNR inspection report that was done after the overflow gave several recommendations to the district, including mapping the system so all manholes can be located. During the overflow, much time was spent locating the manholes that sewage was overflowing from, according to DNR.
Moreover, the DNR inspector said the sewer district should implement a program to reduce infiltration of rainwater into the system.
Sewer district officials responded to DNR’s recommendations in March saying new sewer line and manhole maps have been developed. District officials also said they are taking part in ongoing efforts to reduce infiltration of rainwater into the system.
Griesheimer said, “We want to be good citizens and good partners with Pacific.”